Vanderbilt makes Candice Lee SEC's first female, black athletic director

Vanderbilt has hired Candice Lee as its athletic director, making her the first female athletic director and the first African American woman to lead an SEC athletic department.

Lee had been serving as interim athletic director since February, when Malcolm Turner resigned after one year in the position.

In addition to being athletic director, Lee will hold the title of vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs. The school made the announcement on Thursday.

"Candice is perfectly positioned to lead our athletics program to new heights of success on and off the field of play. She has the drive, creativity, and perseverance to help elevate our student-athletes, and the entire Vanderbilt Athletics program," incoming chancellor Daniel Diermeier said in a statement. "The progress that Vanderbilt Athletics has achieved in recent years, and our very high aspirations for the future, are grounded in the university's commitment both to academic excellence and to preparing our student-athletes to play and win in one of the most, if not the most, competitive conferences in the country. Candice is the living embodiment of these values and aspirations."

Lee was a captain on Vanderbilt's women's basketball team, graduating in 2000.

She becomes just the fifth female athletic director among the Power 5 schools.

"It's really interesting and humbling to hear words like pioneer and trailblazer, and I appreciate that. I know it's significant, and it just reminds me of the responsibility that lies ahead," Lee said on Freddie and Fitzsimmons on ESPN Radio on Thursday night. "I want to do a great job for all the people that I'm working with and for, but I also want to make sure that I'm not a deterrent when there are other opportunities presented to other people of color and other women and other people who are deserving of opportunities.

"There are a lot of people out there that just need a chance, and so if part of this can mean that there are more opportunities to come for others? I'm really excited about that."