In Memoriam: David Williams II, 1947-2019

After 18 years, David Williams II stepped down from his post as vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director at Vanderbilt University in Nashville on January 31. He died on February 8 at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center after collapsing at a local restaurant while having breakfast. He was 71 years old.

Williams was the first African American to serve as a vice chancellor at Vanderbilt. He also was the first African American to serve as an athletics director in the Southeastern Conference.

After stepping down as vice chancellor, Williams had planned to remain at the university as a tenured professor in Vanderbilt University’s School of Law, where he had taught since 2000. There, he had founded the Sports, Law and Society program.

During his tenure as the university’s athletic director, the school has seen athletic and academic success and an average GPA of 3.0 among student athletes. Before coming to Vanderbilt, Williams was a student affairs administrator and professor of law at Ohio State University.

Nicholas S. Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, stated that “David Williams stood tall on this campus, in this city and in college athletics nationally as an incomparable leader, role model and dear friend to me and so many others. We are devastated by this loss. His impact on our community is immeasurable and will be felt for generations to come.”

A native of Detroit, Professor Williams was a two-time graduate of Northern Michigan University. He held an MBA and a juris doctorate from the University of Detroit and a master of law degree in taxation from New York University.


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