Turner replaces Thompson

Updated: June 19, 2004, 10:51 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Former Vanderbilt athletic director Todd Turner was hired to head Washington's troubled athletic department.

"Todd Turner is one of the nation's most experienced and respected athletic directors," incoming university president Mark Emmert said in a statement. "He emerged in the search process as the very best candidate, and we're pleased he likes us as much as we like him."

Turner will replace interim athletic director Dick Thompson, who took over when Barbara Hedges announced her early retirement in January.

Washington's athletic department has been rocked with a series of scandals in the past year. The school faces the possibility of major NCAA sanctions in a gambling investigation, and a federal probe is continuing into the actions of a former softball team physician.

"I'm not terribly concerned about the past," Turner said at a news conference Saturday. "I'm more focused on what lies ahead."

Turner is optimistic all those issues will be resolved in due time, and he pledged continued cooperation.

"You can't always control what happens, but you sure can control the way you respond," Turner said.

Turner will receive a five-year contract worth $325,000 in base salary. Administrators are negotiating incentives that should boost the package to $420,000 annually.

"We ended up with absolutely the right person for this job, and I couldn't be happier how the process went," incoming university president Mark Emmert said.

Turner's position at Vanderbilt was eliminated last fall in a major overhaul. The athletic department was integrated into the rest of the administration.

Turner was Vanderbilt's athletic director from 1996 to 2003, overseeing a program that included 14 varsity sports and 300 student athletes at the private school in Nashville, Tenn.

Vanderbilt, with about 6,000 students, is a member of the Southeastern Conference. Emmert is concluding his term as chancellor at LSU, another SEC school.

Washington has 23 sports programs with about 650 student athletes and a $39.5 million annual budget.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press