Vanderbilt Baseball Adds Two Members To Coaching Staff

Hawkins Field.

Vanderbilt Baseball has added Ro Coleman and Zach Monash to the program’s coaching staff.

Coleman returns to Hawkins Field as the Maggie Corbin Minority Baseball Apprentice. The Chicago native enjoyed an illustrious four-year career with the Commodores and was a member of the 2014 National Championship team.

The Maggie Corbin Minority Baseball Apprenticeship is a privately-funded apprenticeship for a minority candidate who desires to make coaching baseball a profession. Driven by the lack of collegiate coaching opportunities for minorities, the Corbins created the position in 2021 to provide a learning experience within one of the nation’s top collegiate baseball environments.

Coleman is the second recipient of the apprenticeship, following his high school teammate Jabari Brown. Brown recently joined the Missouri staff as an assistant coach after two seasons with Vanderbilt.

Coleman was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft and spent one season in the Tigers’ minor league system. He then returned to Nashville and became the CEO of the Nashville Stars Youth Foundation, a nonprofit committed to empowering the community to become better people, leaders and athletes.

Monash joins the Vanderbilt staff as Video Coordinator. He comes to Music City after five seasons with the Detroit Tigers where he worked as the minor league’s Video Coordinator from 2022-2023 and a baseball information assistant from 2019-2021.

Originally from Tucson, Arizona, he earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona while serving as a student manager for the baseball program from 2011-2013. After internships with both the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres, Monash volunteered with the Arizona Softball program in 2017 before becoming the Video Coordinator for the baseball program in 2018.

Lipscomb Men’s Basketball Drops Rigorous 2023-2024 Schedule

Photo: Courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics

Lipscomb Men’s Basketball has released their 2023-2024 schedule, one of the toughest non-conference schedules in all of mid-major basketball, with the Bisons facing Drake, Wichita State, Arkansas and more.

Head Coach Lennie Acuff is gearing up for his fifth season at the helm of the Lipscomb program, and was able to put together a non-conference schedule that even most Power-5 schools would be afraid of.

“As we worked throughout the offseason to put together our 2023-2024 schedule, it became obvious that our team would be tested at an extremely high level,” says Acuff. “Entering our fifth year at Lipscomb, this is by far the most difficult schedule we have taken on.”

The campaign consists of 31 games, including a 16-game ASUN Conference slate and 15 non-conference matchups. The Purple and Gold will host five non-conference games and eight ASUN games in Allen Arena. The non-conference set is highlighted by three games in Montreal, Canada as part of the Northern Classic on Nov. 24-26.

The Bisons kick off the season on Nov. 6 with a visit to Wichita State before heading to Des Moines, Iowa to play 2023 MVC Champion Drake. Lipscomb’s home opener will take place on Nov. 11 against Asbury. From there, the Bisons will face Tennessee Tech before heading to the Northern Classic in Montreal to play Dartmouth, UNC Asheville and Western Kentucky.

“We realize competing against quality opponents prepares us for ASUN play and that it is necessary as we aim to be at our best against one of the most improved leagues in Division I basketball. Our team and staff look forward to getting preseason workouts started and making every effort to be the best team we can be,” says Acuff.

Lipscomb ends November by hosting Chattanooga on Nov. 29. The team then travels to Orlando, Florida in early December to face UCF. Next, the Bisons head down Belmont Boulevard to face Belmont in the Battle of the Boulevard at the Curb Event Center on Dec. 6.

The final four games of 2023 aren’t any easier for Lipscomb as they plan to face Tennessee State, Arkansas, Bryan College and Florida State.

The Bisons begin their ASUN campaign on Jan. 4 against Eastern Kentucky. They then host Austin Peay for their ASUN home opener on Jan. 13.

Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent Awarded Mark H. McCormack Medal

Gordon Sargent. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt men’s golf junior Gordon Sargent has won the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading male in the 2023 World Amateur Golf Ranking.

As the McCormack Medal winner, Sargent, who will begin his third year with the Commodores this season, receives exemptions into the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort and The Open at Royal Troon.

“It’s really special to have won the McCormack Medal, especially when you see the names of the golfers who have won it before and everything that comes along with it, including the major exemptions,” says Sargent. “This achievement definitely means a lot to me. It’s a goal that I’ve had set for a while, and it gives me a lot of confidence now that I’ve achieved it. I’m really honored to be receiving the medal.”

Sargent’s strong start to his sophomore campaign at Vandy led him to the top of the men’s ranking in February after winning the John Hayt Invitational by seven shots. In April, he became the first amateur player in 23 years to accept a special invitation to compete in the Masters Tournament.

The junior was a member of the U.S. team that won the Arnold Palmer Cup in June. Later that month, Sargent qualified for the U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club, where he tied for 39th after carding 284 over four rounds to earn low amateur honors in what was his second major championship appearance.

Sargent will compete for the U.S. team against Great Britain and Ireland in the 49th Walker Cup at St. Andrews next week as well as the World Amateur Team Championship in October. He has also received invitations to play in the Rocket Mortgage Classic and John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour.

Last season, Sargent was named the Golfweek Men’s National Player of the Year and was a First-Team All-America selection by Golfweek and the GCAA. The 2023 SEC Player of the Year finished his second season at Vanderbilt ranked No. 1 in the Palmer Cup Rankings and No. 2 in Golfstat Ratings. During his first season at Vanderbilt, Sargent won the 2022 NCAA Division I Individual Men’s Golf Championship after making birdie on the first hole of a four-man playoff, becoming the ninth freshman to win the NCAA individual title.

The R&A and the USGA co-award the McCormack Medal annually. It is named after Mark H. McCormack, who founded the sports marketing company IMG and was a great supporter of amateur golf.

The World Amateur Golf Ranking, which is supported by Rolex, was established in 2007 when the men’s ranking was launched. The men’s ranking encompasses more than 3,500 counting events, ranking 4,520 players from 118 countries. The women’s ranking was launched in 2011 and has a calendar of approximately 2,300 counting events with more than 3,322 ranked players from 85 countries.

Vanderbilt opens the 2023-2024 season at the Valero Texas Collegiate, which takes place Sept. 9-11 at the TPC San Antonio Oaks Course.

College Corner: Lipscomb Soccer, Tennessee Basketball, Blue Raiders Hall Of Fame

Lipscomb Men’s Soccer Ranked No. 25 In Preseason Poll

Photo: Courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics

Lipscomb Men’s Soccer is starting off the 2023 season ranked at No. 25 in the College Soccer News Preseason Top-30 Poll.

The recognition comes after a season that saw the Bisons ranked in the Top-25 all last season, climbing as high as No. 10 and earning the No. 9 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Lipscomb finished last season 14-3-2, losing just one game at home while winning eight. In the ASUN championship game, they defeated No. 2 seeded Central Arkansas 6-2, capping off their historic season. They fell to Western Michigan 1-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bisons will kickoff its regular season on Thursday, Aug. 25 against FAU. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT at Lipscomb Soccer Complex.




Tennessee & Food City Partner On 10-Year Basketball Arena Naming-Rights Deal

Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White announced a multi-year naming-rights agreement with longtime Tennessee Athletics corporate champion Food City that rebrands UT’s on-campus arena as Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center.

The agreement with Food City was negotiated by Tennessee Athletics’ multimedia rights partner, LEARFIELD/The Vol Network. Food City’s overall commitment to Tennessee Athletics will allow the University to invest in excess of $20 million over the next 10 years and will aid new and needed renovations of the arena and upgrades to the facility’s interior and exterior. These improvements will significantly enhance the fan experience while attending any Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center event on the UT campus

Among the planned additions to the venue will include new club amenities, updates to the Ray Mears Room and a state-of-the-art center-hung video board. The exterior façade of the facility will be modernized and the look will be more in line with Tennessee’s other athletics venues.

Complete details of the enhancements to the venue will be announced at a later date.

“We are thrilled to partner with Food City on this transformative naming rights opportunity, the first of its kind for Tennessee Athletics,” says White. “Food City is a neighborhood partner who knows our state and region extremely well and has been a key partner for Tennessee Athletics for nearly 30 years. Food City is a valued member of our community and bleeds orange, and we look forward to taking this partnership to another level. I want to thank the Smith family, as well as the Food City team for this long-term partnership.”

Opened in the Fall of 1987, Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center is home to Tennessee’s volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball programs. The arena is named for the late B. Ray Thompson and former UT President Dr. Edward J. Boling.

In addition to delivering an incredible homecourt advantage for the Vols and Lady Vols, the facility hosts dozens of highly attended events annually, including concerts featuring world-famous recording artists, professional wrestling showcases, monster truck and professional bull-riding competitions, conferences and more.




Blue Raider Sports Hall Of Fame Induction Set For Sept. 22, Open To The Public

Middle Tennessee Athletics has opened the induction of the Blue Raider Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 to the public on Friday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Murphy Center Auxiliary Gymnasium.

The induction ceremony will take place on Friday evening again prior to the weekend’s football game on Saturday, to allow this year’s induction class to partake in all of the Homecoming festivities set for the weekend. The induction ceremony, as always, will be open to the public and will feature refreshments after the ceremony.

The Class of 2023 features Blue Raiders from four different decades of Middle Tennessee Athletics, with inductees recognized for their on-the-field achievements and for being outstanding representatives of the MTSU community. The Class of 2023 includes:

  • Anne Marie (Lanning) Brentz was an integral part of one of the greatest eras in Lady Raider basketball, helping lead the team to four postseason appearances, including three straight NCAA Regionals. Brentz is a member of the program’s 1,000-point club, and after her career, ranked second for 3-point field goal percentage, third for 3-pointers made, and second for games played.
  • Anthony DeLuise is another great in a long line of Middle Tennessee tennis players. The highly decorated netter earned All-American status in 1996 when he was also the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year. DeLuise made six singles appearances in Collegiate Grand Slam events, tying for the most in program history, and capped his career ranked in the Top 10 of all five career categories.
  • LaRon Dendy makes history as he becomes the only Blue Raider ever to be inducted into the hall after playing just one season. Dendy led a resurgence in the men’s basketball program in 2011-12 when he was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and a Lou Henson Award Finalist and was also a Portsmouth Invitational participant. Dendy’s dominant play led the Blue Raiders to the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title.
  • Melanie (Manley) Durham was the rock for MTSU’s first softball championship in 2000. The hard-nosed catcher was a pioneer for MTSU softball and continues to be one of the top performers of all time as evidenced by her standing in the career record books. More than 20 years following the completion of her career, Melanie continues to rank in the Top 10 of 12 all-time categories. She was the 1998 OVC Medal of Honor recipient.
  • Jeff Littlejohn was a defensive force for the Blue Raider football team in the early to mid-2000s. Littlejohn was named Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, becoming one of just five Middle Tennessee conference players of the year at that time. He was a force at defensive tackle leading one of the top run defenses in the nation in 2005.
  • Janet Ross helped lay the championship foundation for Middle Tennessee women’s basketball as its point guard in the mid-1980s. Ross was the court general for Lady Raider basketball teams that captured four Ohio Valley Conference Championships and three NCAA Tournament berths. Ross still ranks among career leaders for assists and 3-point field goal percentage. She would go on to become a Lady Raider assistant following her decorated playing career.

Vandy’s Will Sheppard, Matthew Hayball & Wesley Schelling Named Preseason All-SEC

Will Sheppard. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt football players Will Sheppard, Matthew Hayball and Wesley Schelling have been selected Preseason All-SEC by the league’s coaches.

Schelling was named the First-Team long snapper, while Sheppard picked up a Second-Team nod at wide receiver and Hayball was named the Third-Team punter.

Schelling was a First-Team All-SEC selection by the coaches a season ago, the first time the league honored long snappers as part of the all-conference voting. He was the first Commodore to be a First-Team All-SEC selection since 2016. The Nashville native executed all 108 long snaps during the season and recovered a fumbled punt for a touchdown in Vandy’s win over Florida.

Sheppard was a Second-Team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press last season after leading Vanderbilt in receiving touchdowns for the second consecutive year. He finished 2022 with 60 receptions for 776 yards and nine touchdowns. His nine touchdown receptions were second in the SEC and 11th in FBS. The most important six points came with 32 seconds left against Kentucky, giving Vanderbilt their first conference win since 2019.

Hayball is on the Ray Guy Award Watch List after ranking second in the SEC in punting average a season ago. He punted 59 times for an average of 45.36 yards, which was also 11th nationally. That clip ranks fourth in Vanderbilt’s single-season history. The Aussie also forced a fumble at Alabama.

The Commodores open the 2023 campaign Saturday (Aug. 26) against Hawai’i. Kickoff at FirstBank Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m. CT.

TransPerfect Music City Bowl, Amazon Renew Partnership for National Anthem and ‘God Bless America’ Contest

Chapel Hart. Photo: Courtesy of TransPerfect Music City Bowl

The TransPerfect Music City Bowl is in search of two vocalists to sing renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” at this year’s game inside Nissan Stadium.

Marking the fourth edition of this captivating contest, the bowl has once again partnered with Amazon for the Amazon Voice of the Bowl competition. Aspiring and professional singers keen on performing these two iconic patriotic songs during the 26th installment of the TransPerfect Music City Bowl, set to take place on Dec. 30, 2023, at Nissan Stadium, can now submit video auditions for consideration.

“At Amazon, we are proud to partner with the TransPerfect Music City Bowl for another Amazon Voice of the Bowl, an initiative that blends the power of sports and music,” Courtney Ross, Senior Manager of Community Engagement at Amazon, says. “By providing a stage for diverse talents to shine, we celebrate creativity and community, fostering connections that resonate far beyond the game.

“This partnership underscores our commitment to innovation and inclusivity, reflecting the very heart of what Amazon stands for.”

Candidates can submit their acapella performances to throughout the next month. Auditions for the national anthem should not exceed one minute and 30 seconds, while auditions for “God Bless America” should be no longer than a minute. Contestants are asked to include their name, age, email address and contact information along with their entry.

On Sept. 21, five finalists will be unveiled, and they will have the chance to perform live at the Amazon Voice of the Bowl grand finale event on Oct. 28, held at Ole Red.

Vanderbilt Hall Of Famer Earl Bennett Joins SEC Opportunity Forum

Dr. Earl Bennett. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt football alumnus and current Executive Director for Player Development & Administration Dr. Earl Bennett has been selected to join the 2023-2024 cohort for the Southeastern Conference Opportunity Forum.

The SEC Opportunity Forum is one result of SEC Bylaw 23, a conference rule adopted by the SEC Presidents and Chancellors in 2021 to encourage, facilitate and assist member institutions in attracting, hiring and retaining individuals from historically underrepresented groups in the leadership of athletics departments, particularly in the roles of Athletics Director, Head Coach and Senior Woman Administrator as well as in positions that typically lead to those roles. It is designed to connect mid to senior-level administrators in the conference from the historically underrepresented groups with industry leaders, and assist them with advancement in the profession.

The four-part series of engagements for the new class will include in-person sessions at the SEC Office in Birmingham, the SEC Football Championship in Atlanta, the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville and the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin.

“The Southeastern Conference remains committed to the success of our institutional partners,” says SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “We join our member institutions in the quest to help prepare leaders in the field of athletics, and this program helps prepare the next generation of leaders to assume critical roles within athletic administration.”

Bennett, a Vanderbilt Hall of Famer and SEC Legend, is in his third season at his alma mater after joining Clark Lea‘s initial staff. In his player development role, Bennett helps oversee the holistic development of the team’s student-athletes. He helps coordinate the team’s efforts in personal development, career development and community service, among several other areas.

The Birmingham, Alabama, native was an All-SEC selection in all three seasons for the Commodores, collecting 2,852 career receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. He departed for the NFL as the SEC’s all-time leader in career receptions and still holds the Vanderbilt record for receiving touchdowns in a game with five against Kentucky in 2005.

His most famous reception was a 2005 touchdown catch with a minute and 11 seconds left in the game to defeat Tennessee,28-24, at Neyland Stadium, giving Vandy their first win over the Vols since 1982.

Bennett was a third-round pick by the Chicago Bears and spent five seasons in Chicago, catching 185 passes for 2,277 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Off the field, Bennett has earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Vanderbilt, and completed his PhD in education from the University of Houston in 2022.

AP College Football Poll Drops With Tennessee Sitting At No. 12

Neyland Stadium. Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

College football season is less than three weeks away, and the Associated Press (AP) has dropped its first Top 25 Poll of the 2023-2024 season with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville landing at No. 12.

The University of Georgia occupies the No. 1 spot as back-to-back National Champions. The University of Michigan and Ohio State University follow at No. 2 and No. 3 with the University of Alabama at No. 4 and Louisiana State University at No. 5 as they head into their second season with Head Coach Brian Kelly.

Other SEC teams include the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) at No. 22 and Texas A&M University at No. 23, with the University of South Carolina receiving 73 votes.

The Volunteers will face Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M and South Carolina this upcoming season. Tennessee Head Coach Josh Heupel is set to lead the team for the third straight year after their 11-2 season in 2022. The Volunteers had their best season in over a decade, beating Alabama for the first time since 2006. They also went on to win the Orange Bowl against No. 7 Clemson.

The Vols were tied for No. 2 in the AP Top 25 Poll in Week 9 before losing to Georgia. The team hurt their College Football Playoff chances further when they lost to South Carolina in their second to last game of the season. They finished the year at No. 6 in the Poll.

Tennessee will kicks off the season at Nissan Stadium on Sept. 2, where they will face the University of Virginia.