Q&A - Todd Turner

Dawgman.com spoke with new Washington Athleic Director Todd Turner, who is busy tying up loose ends with his former employer - Vanderbilt - and moving his family west to Seattle. With football right around the corner and some new hirings to take care of, Turner will no doubt hit the ground running from day one at Montlake.

Dawgman.com: What's on the immediate horizon for you?

Todd Turner: I have commitments to fulfill in the next three weeks, but my first official piece of business will be going to the Pac-10 Athletic Directors meeting in late July. Then I will come to Seattle and get to work the first week in August.

DM.C: What will be after that?

TT: There's going to be some organizational structure things that need to be addressed, and that will take some time. There are some hirings that have been put on hold, like the softball coach, head compliance person and whether or not there will be another associate position created. But I talk daily with people in the athletic department, so things are moving forward. Also, I want to become acquainted with the people that really make the Athletic Department go, both on the inside and outside, people that make it what it is. So it will be a little bit internal and a little bit external.

DM.C: Did any of the issues surrounding the athletic department and the University play a part in your decision-making?

TT: A lot of it was on a need-to-know basis, and to be honest I was able to get a feel for what the general issues because it was easy to follow in the newspapers. But after researching the history and the people involved with Washington, I came to the conclusion that there was not a culture of abuse, but rather things just went wrong. To me, I felt like it was the exception, rather than the rule.

DM.C: It seems like the changes at Vanderbilt weren't what you were hoping for.

TT: Well, the Chancellor (Gordon Gee) merged the athletic department and created a division of student life, recreation and sports. I was offered a job as a special assistant for academic reform. While I was interested in the reform movement, I didn't feel that the model the chancellor used was one that I wanted to be a part of, so I declined his offer. I really wanted to be at a university where there was credibility in setting the standard for what intercollegiate athletics should be on a college campus. Washington has all those characteristics, including tradition and success, as well as an excellent academic record. Vanderbilt, right now, has moved itself from the mainstream.

DM.C: You have a reputation as someone the NCAA respects.

TT: I certainly know members of the infractions committee and hopefully they have confidence in me that I know what I'm doing. I don't know if it will help, but it certainly is something that can't hurt.

DM.C: Please talk a little about your prior work experience with Mark Emmert.

TT: Mark and I both served on the SEC executive committee for a short time together. He certainly knew what was going on at Vanderbilt and I knew what was happening at LSU. And we both also worked at Connecticut, but not at the same time.

DM.C: How do you anticipate working with Emmert in your new role in Seattle?

TT: I think there's one overriding idea here. His view of the athletic director position is one of a senior official within the University, where the AD fully participates in the life of the University, just like Deans, Vice Presidents and other senior leadership people. That was very attractive to me.

DM.C: Is it fair to say that Emmert will be very involved in the major hirings of the athletic department?

TT: If you don't have the support and the helpfulness of the President, you can't hire good coaches. I'm sure the President will be as active as he can be, as time permits, of course. But in my experience, in every single major hire the President or Chancellor has been an integral part of the process. The Athletic Director will consult regularly with the President to make sure his input is heard and followed.

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