utilized a sports analogy when describing what attracted him to the athletics director job at Vanderbilt.
"I was just struck by the fact that we have a real opportunity to play some offense and take 'the Vanderbilt way' forward in athletics," Turner said. "For me, the ingredients to do so are all there."
Turner will get his chance to take the ball and run with it as the next leader of Vanderbilt's athletic department. On Tuesday, University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced Turner as Vanderbilt's new vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director. Turner, who spent the past four years as president of the NBA G League and as a member of the NBA's senior leadership team, will replace retiring athletics director David Williams and assume his new role at Vanderbilt on Feb. 1, 2019.
Alongside Zeppos, Turner reacted to his appointment in a conference call with media on Tuesday morning, praising the opportunity that lies ahead in Nashville.
"I am so honored to join such a storied university with an historic commitment to excellence in everything they do," Turner said.
Turner will take over a Vanderbilt athletic department that has seen immense success in recent years. Under Williams' watch, the Commodores won four national championships — in women's bowling, baseball and women's tennis. Vanderbilt has also won more than 19 league titles and tournaments, including men's golf, women's tennis, women's soccer and bowling in recent years. Later this month, Vanderbilt football will play in its sixth bowl game in the last 10 years. Moreover, Vanderbilt student-athletes have earned above a cumulative 3.0 grade-point average every year for the past 13 years.
Through his extensive background in professional sports and consulting, Turner said he expects to rely on his experience in pushing the Commodores forward. He likened the development of student-athletes to the development of G League prospects into NBA stars. Turner said a similar approach can and will work as a leader in the Southeastern Conference.
"It's that same sense of mission that applies here at Vanderbilt, furthering the success of our student-athletes on and off the field of play," he said.
Zeppos said Vanderbilt's search committee met with and considered a number of highly qualified candidates for its next athletics director. But the committee, supported by executive search firm Korn Ferry and including Vanderbilt Board of Trust Chairman Bruce Evans, Ingram, Vanderbilt School of Medicine Associate Dean of Alumni Affairs and alumna Ann Price and former Vanderbilt basketball star Shan Foster, was quickly blown away when it first sat down with Turner.
Zeppos described Turner as a "visionary strategic" with "a deep and abiding commitment to education."
"It was really in the first group of candidates that Malcolm surfaced at the really, really beginning," Zeppos said. "Those of us on the search committee said, wow, this is incredible."
Turner, who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and went on to earn joint J.D./.M.B.A. degrees from Harvard University, opined on a number of topics on Tuesday. He emphasized the importance of fundraising to compete at the highest level and harkened back to his own extensive experience in creating revenue. Turner also harped on the importance of academics in the collegiate model, a characteristic that remains engrained within Vanderbilt's brand.
Lastly, Turner joked about the "dynamic period" of the coming weeks as he transitions from the G-League to his new role at Vanderbilt. But his to-do list that awaits his arrival in Nashville is short – for now.
"My first priority will be to listen and learn," Turner said. "I'm going to go on a bit of a listening and learning tour. My job and my first task will be to listen and listen to student-athletes, coaching staffs and the entire Vanderbilt community to learn what matters most … I'm excited to get started."
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.