Stallings' decision funded Aussie trip

Updated: August 24, 2009, 5:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings sacrificed a $100,000 pay raise to fund his Commodores' 10-day trip to Australia earlier this month.

[+] EnlargeStallings
Kim Klement/US PresswireCoach Kevin Stallings' generosity enabled Vanderbilt to take a trip to Australia as scheduled.

Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor David Williams said Monday that the coach's decision came in May, when officials were trying to find money for the pre-planned trip during a time when cuts up to 20 percent were being made around Vanderbilt.

Teams can take overseas trips every four years and raise money through fundraisers, games or donors. They cannot be paid for directly by a coach.

"I don't think Kevin meant to be a trailblazer, but he is a trailblazer in this," Williams said. "He was just doing what he thought was the appropriate thing to do in light of a number of things. As much as he was being generous, he also understands completely the sensitivity to the fact that the rest of the university was having some financial pain."

Stallings has 14 players returning from a team that went 19-12 last season.

The Commodores' trip lasted from Aug. 7-17 and featured five games with visits to Sydney, Melbourne, Townsville and Canberra.

ESPN.com's Andy Katz reported on the story on Aug. 11. The men's basketball team's last overseas trip was to Spain in 2003. The trip to Australia had been planned partly because center A.J. Ogilvy is from that country.

"We had waited an extra two years, since it had been six years since we'd gone on a trip," Stallings told Katz. The Commodores traveled to Italy, Spain and the Canary Islands in 2003.

"I knew the university was facing a tough time just like the rest of the country. There were people losing jobs. There was so much distress economically for the university to shell out $100,000 for us to make the trip."

When deposits were due for the basketball team's trip, officials couldn't commit school funds without knowing that they would be paid back. Williams said that Stallings then asked if he could forego the raise due him in his contract to pay for the trip.

"I was convinced it was the right time for the program; it was a hard thing to let die," Stallings told Katz. "So I went back to [Williams] and proposed the idea of me paying for it, and he agreed to that."

Said Williams: "It was surprising because I'd never heard of anything being done like that. It was not surprising in the sense that it wasn't surprising that Kevin would do that. I'm grateful and think it's very generous, but that's just who Kevin is."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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