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Vanderbilt Coach Fired After Sarah Fuller’s History-Making Debut

Vanderbilt Coach Fired After Sarah Fuller’s History-Making Debut

Vanderbilt fired head football coach Derek Mason on Sunday, one day after he made history by allowing Sarah Fuller to suit up as a kicker for his team.

On Saturday, Fuller became the first female to play for a Power 5 football team when she kicked off against Missouri. Mason is said to have gone with Fuller, a senior goalkeeper on the Vanderbilt soccer team, because his other kickers were deemed unavailable due to COVID-19.

Vanderbilt ultimately lost to Missouri 41-0, dropping the program’s record to 0-8.

Mason was fired shortly thereafter.

“On behalf of the entire Vanderbilt community, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Coach Mason for his many years of dedication and service leading our football program,” athletic director Candice Storey Lee said in a statement.

“Derek cares deeply about the student-athletes under his charge. His tenure at Vanderbilt will be remembered for his steadfast commitment to our student-athletes, not only on the field, but in the classroom and as young people.”

Mason also released a statement on Twitter.

“It has truly been my honor to have been given the opportunity to teach, mentor, champion and coach hundreds of Vanderbilt young men and one courageous female,” he wrote.

Mason amassed a 27-55 record in six seasons at Vanderbilt. He will go down as the sixth-winningest coach in program history and only the second to make it to two bowl games.

Fuller, meanwhile, said after Saturday’s outing that she would love the opportunity to keep playing with the team.

“I would love to learn more, so if those guys come out of quarantine, I would love to learn from them and their experience,” she said.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun doing this. It’s a challenge for me, but it’s something I know I can do. It’s applicable from doing a goal kick to a field goal kick, so I want to continue learning, and if those guys can help me, I’m all for it.”

Prior to getting fired, Mason said he would love to have Fuller back.

“If she wants to kick and she’s available, we’d love to have her,” he said.

It remains to be seen if the next Vanderbilt coach will feel the same way.

Thus far, the names being discussed to replace Mason include former NFL coach Jeff Fisher, Buffalo’s Lance Leipold, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea, and Princeton’s Bob Surace.

Who will the job ultimately go to? Time will tell.

Related: Vanessa Bryant’s Tribute Outfit Goes Viral (Photo)

Jennifer Withers Hoey

Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.

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