NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt’s David Williams II and Toby Wilt will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, as announced Friday by the organization.
Wilt and Williams join Jevon Kearse (Tennessee Titans), Randy Lambert (Maryville), David Legwand (Nashville Predators), Artis Hicks (Memphis), Sharrieffa Barksdale (Tennessee), R.A. Dickey (Tennessee), Harry Galbreath (Tennessee), Nikki McCray-Penson (Tennessee), Tony White (Tennessee) and Trevecca basketball legend David Suddeth (Trevecca) as members of this year’s hall of fame class.
“I am thrilled for David Williams and Toby Wilt, both of whom are very deserving of their election to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame,” said Candice Lee, Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director. “Toby was one of the most successful two-sport athletes in Commodore history and has gone on to become a central figure in Nashville’s rise as a major league sports city. David was a towering and pioneering figure in college athletics, a mentor to me and so many others, and a tireless community leader in Nashville. I know how much David appreciated Toby’s friendship and commitment to Vanderbilt and to the world of golf. It is fitting that they will be inducted together.”
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet will be July 23 at the Omni Nashville Downtown.
Williams, who made an extraordinary impact on Vanderbilt, college athletics and higher education, was the first Black vice chancellor at Vanderbilt and dramatically elevated the student-athlete experience while leading its athletic department. He succeeded in building a program where student-athletes can achieve remarkable academic success while competing in one of the toughest athletics conferences.
Vanderbilt Athletics experienced unprecedented success on and off the field during Williams’ tenure. During his 15 seasons at the helm of Vanderbilt Athletics, the Commodores won four national championships—in bowling, baseball and women’s tennis. Vanderbilt also won more than 19 league titles and tournaments, including the men’s golf and women’s tennis Southeastern Conference championships and the Southland Conference Bowling Championship. The Vanderbilt football team played in six bowl games during Williams’ tenure, breaking a 26-year drought in 2008.
A hallmark of Williams’ leadership was the expansion of academic and experiential opportunities for student-athletes. Because of his guidance, the university now offers the nation’s most comprehensive summer internship program for student-athletes. In addition, the award-winning Summer Bridge program for incoming first-year athletes was introduced to provide workshops on life and study skills. Vanderbilt student-athletes earned a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher in each of his final 13 years at Vanderbilt.
During his time as athletics director, Williams brought significant attention to sports’ impact on society, underscoring Vanderbilt’s rich and often troubled history during the civil rights movement. He was instrumental in leading efforts for recognition of and reconciliation with Vanderbilt pioneers, including Perry Wallace and Godfrey Dillard, and in educating current students, faculty and staff about the university’s past.
Williams joined the law faculty in 2000, when he began working in Vanderbilt administration as a vice chancellor, general counsel and secretary of the university. His areas of expertise included sports law, law and education, and tax law. In 2002, student affairs was added to his responsibilities, then athletics the following year. In 2012, he was officially given the title of vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director.
Williams was part of the 2021 Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame Class.
Wilt made his mark on Vanderbilt as both a football and golf student-athlete.
Wilt arrived at Vanderbilt on a football scholarship in 1962 and became a letter winner as a running back from 1963 to 1965. As his football tenure wound down, Wilt, who played high school golf, decided to try out for the Dores’ golf team. The Evanston, Illinois, native helped represent Vanderbilt at the SEC Championships during his senior season.
After his graduation in 1966, he went on to establish the Toby S. Wilt Scholarship. The scholarship has been awarded to Commodore legends and PGA Tour pros Luke List and Brandt Snedeker. Wilt has even teamed with Snedeker to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Wilt served as a founder of the Golf Club of Tennessee in 1991 and in 1998 was co-founder of the Music City Bowl. Each spring, Wilt is the subject of a national television audience as the starter on the first tee at The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.
He was inducted into both the Tennessee Golf and Vanderbilt Athletics halls of fame in 2017.