Todd Turner May 2nd Press Conference Transcript

Twenty-four hours after the press conference announcing the hiring of former Colorado State Head Coach Tom Collen as the new women's basketball head coach, Vanderbilt Athletic Director Todd Turner once again met the press on Thursday afternoon.

This time, however, he was alone, as he explained the chain of events that led to Collen's decision to withdraw from the head coaching position. Here is a transcript of his comments:

I know that the question that is on most of your minds is: How can we let this happen? What led to the sequences that have unfolded in the last 24 hours?

I want to take a minute and talk about the facts of our search. As a private institution, we don't talk a lot about our records or how we conduct our business, and I want to try to continue in that vein. But I do want to share with you some factual things about the way the search has progressed and what led up specifically to today's announcement.

When we began the search the day after Coach Foster stepped aside and went to Ohio State, we quickly developed a list of the top 25 or so women's basketball head coaches in the country. As I said yesterday at the press conference, we spnet about week or 10 days going through the protocol that you typically go through when you do this kind of thing to talk to athletic directors or in their absence to senior athletic officials at other schools to ask for, or at least least let them know that you intended to have a conversation with their coach.

That continued for about a week to 10 days, and we began during that same time to talk directly after getting permission with coaches to assess interest. In some cases there was no interest. In some cases there was a willingness to learn more about what was going on at Vanderbilt, which I like because I enjoy selling Vanderbilt, and that led to the opportunity to have extended phone conversations and give information on what's going on at Vanderbilt. At the end of 10 days or so, we had a viable working list of probably 6-8 coaches who were at least interested enough that they would talk with us further.

Part of getting to that list involves some serious recruitment of these coaches. All of them, like Coach Collen, have successful careers, were in places where they were content, were winning, were well-paid and who were in solid positions. So our job is to try to recruit that level of person. So we spent the next 10 days really trying to recruit hard candidates that we thought had enough interest in Vanderbilt that it might prove to be worthwhile. We had one potential candidate visit campus, and the second candidate as Tom Collen. He came last Friday evening and spent all day on Saturday and Sunday -- he was going to leave Sunday night, but he missed his connection and had to stay over here until Monday morning.

During the course of the search, I've had a small group of university supporters and university officials that have helped me in screening the candidates and visiting with them when we've brought them to campus. That's pretty much what we did this weekend with the Collens, and the feedback from those visits were those people were quite positive and led us at the end of Coach Collen's visit to tell him that we were very interested in him being our coach and to show him some of the financial details that existed in considering this opportunity.

He returned home on Monday morning, and I called him to let him know that -- let me back up -- As we typically do when we are ready to make a job offer, we will verify credentials of the candidate. . . so Monday morning when Coach Collen was on the plane, we asked our registrar to call the two schools that were listed in the biography that was on the website for Colorado State.

We did not have a resume from Coach Collen. We had the information that we had been able to gather from public sources because, as I said before, we were in recruiting mode, he was not applying for this job, so the information we were gathering about him and all other coaches was from publicly accessible information that's available . . .the web site, the media guide, etc. So using the information that was in the website, we asked our registrar, as you normally would do, to verify the credentials, and he came back to us late in the day on Monday and said the degree at Bowling Green is fine, the two degrees at Miami of Ohio are actually one degree, but with a double major. That was news to me. So I immediately sometime after 4 o'clock, within minutes after receiving this call, I called Coach Collen who was walking off the jetway on the airplane in Denver and I said, "Tom, we were using the bio on the Interent and we checked academic credentials and there was a bit of an issue here, can you explain this to me?"

He said, "I've always thought I had 2 masters degrees." I said, "Well, that's not what's been verified by the people at Miami, so you need to help us understand this. The office at Miami is closed, so it's going to be difficult for me to get you to call them and have them release the transcripts to us, but we can't do anything until we get the transcripts so our academic officials can review and judge it for its credibility or what it says and analyze it. So he said, "Gosh, maybe I've got those transcript records and my diplomas and things in a box in my basement." This again was probably early evening after he got home from the airport, it's about an hour's drive or so from Ft. Collins to Denver. And so he called me back later that night and said, "Hey, I found my transcript and I've got my diplomas." I said, "Look, you need to fax that to me first thing in the morning."

In the meantime Brad Bates was working with me and the registrar to make sure that the registrar got with the folks at Miami of Ohio first thing Tuesday morning to release the transcript to us so that we could .... But Tom saved us the time because he faxed it to me, I got it about 8 o'clock Tuesday morning. The record was clear. There was a single master degree with an inordinate amount of hours of post-graduate study, 61 hours of post-graduate hours. The grade point average was extraordinary and the conferral of a double major in this curriculum.

Up until that point we had assumed that what was on the bio on the website was accurate. So I said to Tom, "Is this accurate? It's in your transcript." He said, "Yes, that must be it. I somehow didn't get that right in my previous bio, and I'm not sure how it got to be in there, but this is it. I have 60 hours, and so we took this information and as an institution relying on other people in our university community, we said, he's never presented to us anything other than the fact that he has this double major and a single master's degree.

At that point -- this was Tuesday afternoon -- I made the decision that if I were going to hire Tom Collen, I needed to look him in the eye one more time, and so I called him and said, "Tom, we're really getting close to getting this done, but I want to come out to Colorado, and I want to sit with you and look in your eye one more time and let you understand what our expectations, our values and our traditions are like at Vanderbilt and likewise, I want to understand you, because now we've got this little thing that worries me a bit. You cleared it up, and you're not denying it; that's exactly what your resume will say when I get it -- which he handed to me when I got off the plane -- he did not have a resume that was updated when we brought him here to Nashville. He wasn't looking for a job, he didn't have a resume. . .Again, we were working off the bio that was on the Internet.

So when I arrived out there, the resume he presented me said the objective was to achieve the coaching job at Vanderbilt and was consistent with the


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