Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Committed to Inclusion

Mission Statement

Equity, diversity and inclusion are at the core of who we are both as an athletics department and university. We strive to create the most excellent student-athlete experience in all of college athletics. Vanderbilt Athletics is committed to cultivating an inclusive environment that embodies a sense of belonging for our student-athletes, coaches, and staff by fostering unity, intersections, and interdepartmental and societal change.

Core Values

Engage in Dialogue
Promote Unity
Take Action
Be Yourself


Engage our community with continuous initiatives and partnerships that create lasting impact.

Empower student-athletes, coaches, and staff to use their voices to initiate actionable progress.

Educate with trainings, workshops, and provision of resources to equip our student-athletes, coaches,
and staff with tools to embrace and understand differences in their daily interactions.

Racial Justice, Advocacy and Community Building

Black Student-Athlete Group

Black Student-Athlete Group is a student-led community dedicated to promoting the holistic well-being of the Black student-athlete, discussing mental, physical, relational, and spiritual health. Black Student-Athlete Group is an organization that communicates with and informs our staff and coaches about issues unique to the black experience on campus. This group is active in the Nashville community, focusing on increasing voter registration in recent years.

B – Building up the communities of the underprivileged
S – Stimulating the hearts and minds of the unlimited
A – Amplifying the voices of the unheard
G – Giving back to an affirming the culture of the unbreakable

Commodores in Action (CIA)

Commodores In Action is an equity, diversity, and inclusion working group. Its purpose is to advocate for the unique identities of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff. Commodores In Action is strategically comprised of coaches, staff, and university partners from diverse backgrounds, departments, and talents. Commodores In Action raises awareness, implements departmental change, and acts against systemic injustice. 

Unsung Heroes

 Greg Fields, General Manager | Hendrix Dining Room
Miya Sullivan, Associate Athletic Trainer | Football
Ricky Thrash, Assistant Athletic Director | Enrollment and Transition

David Williams Annual MLK Day Civil Rights Trip

The David Williams Annual MLK Day Trip, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and former vice chancellor of athletics David Williams, is committed to educating student-athletes about the significance of the legacy of the civil rights movement. We continue his commitment by annually creating an experience for student-athlete, staff, and coaches to explore historical landmarks across the country annually on MLK Day. 

2017 – Washington, D.C.

2018 – Memphis, Tenn.

2019 – Montgomery, Ala.

2020 – Nashville, Tenn.

2021-22 – Virtual (due to COVID-19 pandemic)

2022-23 – Birmingham, Ala.



Vanderbilt University Founded 1873
SEC Created 1933
Nashville’s Ted Rhodes – 1st Black Golfer to Play in U.S. Open1948
Bishop Joseph Johnson – 1st Black Admitted to Vanderbilt (Divinity) 1953
James Lawson Expelled from Vanderbilt Divinity School 1960
Vanderbilt admits first black undergraduate students 1964
Steve Martin - 1st Black SEC Student-Athlete (Baseball)1965
Nat Northington - 1st Black SEC Football Player 1967
Perry Wallace - 1st Black Varsity SEC Basketball Player 1967-68
Bill Cofield Becomes 1st Black Athletic Director at historically white university1973
Cathy Bender – 1st Black Woman to earn VU athletic scholarship 1978
Wade Houston – 1st Black SEC Men’s Basketball coach 1989
Nakia Davis – 1st Black SEC Women’s Golfer 1992
David Williams – 1st Black Vanderbilt Athletic Director 2003
Sylvester Croom – 1st Black SEC Football Coach (Miss State) 2004
James Franklin – 1st Black Vanderbilt Football Coach 2011
Vanderbilt Celebrates Equality Weekend 2017
Jerry Stackhouse named 1st black men’s basketball coach 2019
Candice Storey Lee- 1st Black Female Athletic Director in the SEC 2020
Black Student-Athlete Group is founded 2020
Althea Thomas named 1st Black Director of Track & Field 2021
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordinator position is created 2021
Honoring Vanderbilt Football Black Pioneers 2022

Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center

Founded in 1984, the center was named in honor of the first Black student admitted to Vanderbilt University in 1953, Bishop Joseph Johnson (B.D. ’54, Ph.D. ’58).  The Black Cultural Center has served as the epicenter of the Black experience at Vanderbilt. Evolving to the growing needs of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff, the Black Cultural Center continues to offer innovative programming, resources, and opportunities for fellowship. Rich in history and culture, the Black Cultural Center is a welcoming oasis for all who visit.

For more information, click here.

Public Theology & Racial Justice Collaborative

The Vanderbilt Divinity School Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative engages in partnerships focused on eradicating racism and all its reciprocal forms of injustice and hatred.  The collaborative seeks to be a hub for a national conversation on public theology and racial justice by bringing together activists, scholars, and practitioners to engage students, faculty, and community members at Vanderbilt, Nashville, and beyond.

For more information, click here.

LGBTQI Resources and Support

LGBTQI Resources

LGBTQI Life, located within the K.C. Potter Center on West Side Row, is a cultural center and a place of affirmation for individuals of all identities, and a resource for information and support about gender and sexuality. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are encouraged to stop by during office hours, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Summer hours may differ.

P.R.I.D.E. Training

Our athletic department is committed to creating an inclusive environment for student-athletes, coaches, and staff members. We offer P.R.I.D.E. (Pursuing Respect, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity) Training led by Vanderbilt’s Office of LGBTQI Life. 

 The training is a one-hour interactive session where coaches and staff committed to:

  1. Engage in ongoing education about gender, sexuality, and intersecting identities.
  2. Continuously work to recognize oppression, privilege, and the ways they impact marginalized communities.
  3. Provide referrals, support, or resources on and off-campus as necessary.
  4. Foster an equitable environment for people of all genders and sexualities, inclusive of their intersecting identities.

Athletic Department and University Policies

Non-Discrimination Policy

Vanderbilt University Athletics strongly supports and abides by the University’s non-discrimination policy, which states: “Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their gender expression consistent with the University’s nondiscrimination policy.”

Sexual Misconduct Policy

Vanderbilt University Athletics strongly supports and abides by the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Athletics contact: Deputy athletic director Kristene Kelly (kristene.m.kelly@vanderbilt.edu)

Project Safe

The mission of the Project Safe Center is to provide information, support, referrals, and education about sexual and intimate partner violence (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking), as well as consent, healthy relationships, and healthy sexuality to the Vanderbilt University community.

  • 24-Hour Hotline: 615.322.7233
  • For more information, click here.

Vanderbilt Title IX Office

Vanderbilt University Title IX Office

Transgender Inclusion Policy

Vanderbilt Athletics supports the mission and work of Trans@VU. For more information on the variety of resources available to transgender, trans, gender-variant, non-binary, agender, and other non-cisgender people and allies at Vanderbilt, click here

From an athletic competition and eligibility standpoint, Vanderbilt follows the transgender inclusion policies of the NCAA.

Fan Code of Conduct

Vanderbilt is committed to providing a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all teams and fans to enjoy. Vanderbilt Athletics reserves the right to institute measures for any language, actions or demonstrations in violation of the Vanderbilt Athletics Fan Code of Conduct. This includes, but is not limited to, ejection from the facility and revocation of future ticket privileges. Violation of laws or city ordinances may result in arrest or prosecution.

In all Vanderbilt Athletics venues, our guests are expected to:

  • Show respect to all student-athletes, coaches, officials and surrounding fans at all times.
  • Assume responsibility for their conduct.
  • Comply with zero-tolerance policies related to any form of harassment, discrimination or abusive language. Use of foul, abusive, obscene, or discriminatory language, signage or gestures (on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, age, race, national origin, religion, military status, disability status or any other characteristic) is prohibited.
  • Adhere to requests and directives from game day event staff and law enforcement personnel regarding venue operation and emergency response procedures.
  • Refrain from entering the playing surface without proper authorization or credentials.

If you have an issue and need assistance at any sporting event, please text the issue to our fan assistance line at (615) 308-9330 and a member of our fan engagement team will respond appropriately.

Stadium Policies

Mental Health and Wellbeing

University Counseling Center

The University Counseling Center supports the mental health needs of Vanderbilt students, encouraging their work toward their academic and personal goals. Our highly skilled and multidisciplinary staff develop evidence-based treatment plans tailored to each individual’s unique background and needs by working together with students, campus partners, and community providers. The UCC also emphasizes prevention and education through collaboration and consultation focused on the development of the skills and self-awareness needed to excel in a challenging educational environment. We offer culturally responsive services in a safe and affirming space and are committed to engaging in an ongoing dialogue that provides our team with opportunities to grow in the context of their own cultural identity development. The UCC is committed to understanding the role of diverse experiences and backgrounds in order to best promote mental health and wellbeing in the lives of individuals and in our community.

Vanderbilt Athletics supports the work of the UCC and has partnered with the Center to offer expanded mental health resources and services to student-athletes.

For more information, click here.

Center for Student Wellbeing

The Center for Student Wellbeing’s seven areas of focus include promoting self-care and personal growth, enhancing intellectual progress, cultivating mindfulness and reflection, strengthening physical and emotional health, providing alcohol and other drug education and recovery support, supporting students in distress, and fostering community through meaningful connections.

For more information, click here.

SEC and NCAA Resources

SEC Resources

Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Lee, baseball coach Tim Corbin, and a rotating group of student-athletes are members of the Southeastern Conference’s Council on Racial Equality and Social Justice.

For more information, click here.

NCAA Resources

NCAA Office of Inclusion: The NCAA office of inclusion advances diversity, equity and inclusion in college athletics for over 1,100 member schools and athletics conferences. The office supports student-athletes and individuals who teach and lead across the core areas of disability, international, LGBTQ, race/ethnicity and women. The NCAA’s senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement, Derrick Gragg, is a Vanderbilt alum and former football player.

NCAA Student-Athlete Well Being

NCAA Fairness and Integrity

Vanderbilt Resources

Black Athletic Director Alliance: Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Lee is a founding member of the Black AD Alliance and a member of the organization’s executive committee. Follow on Twitter @blckadalliance.

Vanderbilt Athletics Student Athlete Development: The Student-Athlete Development Program represents the comprehensive commitment by the Vanderbilt Athletic Department to foster the total growth and development of our student-athletes. We Are committed to personal development, career development, community service, and leadership development. Follow @VU_SADev on Twitter.

Sports & Society Initiative: The Vanderbilt Sports & Society Initiative was founded by the late athletic director David Williams in 2018 to examine issues related to race, gender, politics, culture and sports. A faculty committee oversees academic projects of the Initiative while the Athletic Department hosts annual public programming. Follow @SportsSocietyVU on Twitter and subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter by emailing andrew.j.maraniss@vanderbilt.edu.