Vanderbilt fires football coach Derek Mason amid winless season

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Vanderbilt head football coach Derek Mason was fired Sunday, one day after a 41-0 loss to Missouri that dropped the Commodores to 0-8 this season.

Mason, who was in his sixth season, posted a 27-55 record at the school. He is the sixth-winningest head coach in program history and only the second to guide the Commodores to at least two bowl games.


"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," Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Storey Lee said in a statement Sunday. "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. While this was a difficult decision, I know this change is necessary. We wish Derek and his entire family the best."

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Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch will serve as Vanderbilt's interim head coach. The school said the search process for a new coach will begin immediately.

In a statement on social media Sunday, Mason wrote: "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."


The female player Mason referred to in his statement is Sarah Fuller, who became the first woman to play in a Power Five conference football game during Saturday's loss to Missouri. Due to COVID-19 issues within the program, Fuller -- a member of the Vandy women's soccer team -- served as the Commodores' kicker.

Vanderbilt hired Mason to be the school's 28th coach in program history in 2014. He replaced James Franklin, who left for Penn State.

Under Mason, Vanderbilt has posted a 3-17 mark over the past two seasons combined, including a 1-15 record in the Southeastern Conference. The Commodores have dropped 12 consecutive SEC games -- the longest active streak for a Power Five school.

Vanderbilt (0-8) is scheduled to play at Georgia on Saturday and is working to reschedule its final home game against Tennessee, which was moved back by the SEC as a result of the pandemic. Vanderbilt has never had a winless season in its 117-year history.


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