Inside Vaughn Williams’ Decision to Return to Boston College
It’s a new day for me at Boston College, a school I’ve held near and dear to my heart since I stepped foot on campus in the Spring of 1998 as an athletics administrator, overseeing event operations and facilities.
On football game days, which was a big part of the job, I was one of the first people on campus at 3 a.m. Around one of those Saturdays was where I met my future wife, Eileen. She was a graduate assistant for the academic advising office for student-athletes.
Boston College. Football. Saturdays.
Our relationship developed through the intersection of those pieces of my life.
After we originally planned our wedding around Thanksgiving 2002, the Eagles then scheduled one of its first holiday football games in nearly a decade. We weren’t not going to move the wedding and so we did (to what would be the day of the BCS Championship game between Ohio State and Miami (Fla.) on January 3).
Her parents thought I was downright crazy, but she understood and I loved her for that and so much more.
That same love I had and continue to have for Eileen, I have for Boston College as well. It’s what has led me back to campus to serve as the Senior Associate Athletic Director of Administration.
For every opportunity I’ve had in college athletics, there was some bigger challenge, a bigger purpose, perhaps a bigger mission, that needed to be accomplished. After talking with Martin Jarmond, who has been a friend for 10 years, I got to really understand his heart and what he believes we can accomplish together – a grand and complex mission that will push our limits and test both of our resolve as leaders of young men and women.
You want to work with people who want to make a difference in lives within an athletic department in many, many ways. He’s going to do that. I’m about that. The opportunity to work together, to learn and grow together, is something I could not pass up.
With Martin at Boston College, they’re looking to get things done, to bring a new passion, new energy and new purpose to the athletic department and our 750 student-athletes.
Everything I’ve known about the Eagles has been centered around the holistic development of a student-athlete in order to be a servant. Everything is done through possessing a servant mentality and making servant leaders. That’s in the fabric of Boston College. It’s more than just being a student-athlete. And it is at the core of who I am as a person and a leader.
There’s purpose-driven potential here and a call to excellence in everything at BC. To be the better classmate, to be the better roommate, to be the better citizen, to be the better teammate — to lift up everything.
When you have your values set on that, sometimes others may put you down and say you can’t achieve excellence in all things. Don’t listen to them. The reality is that you can and you will if you work hard and follow your heart. It’s been done at Boston College, and it will be done again, across not only football and basketball but throughout all of our 31 sports.
After nearly six years as the Director of Athletics at Kennesaw State, I’ve learned a lot about my leadership ability, servantship, community and football in particular after starting a program from scratch. I couldn’t return to Boston College without a Kennesaw State experience.
We energized a community and the greater Atlanta metro area around this idea of football. All over the state, we established relationships at the grassroots level and got people excited about new things to come, school traditions and being prideful about wearing the Black and Gold. We were the soul of the institution, so to speak.
I think I’ve figured out a little more about hiring the right coaches, some of those things that are important to finding the next one and being honest with yourself about where you are as a program and ultimately, where you need to go. We spent 14 months looking for a football coach to lead our team. Hiring staff is one of the most important things we’ll do at Boston College.
But at Kennesaw, we didn’t have all of the resources of a Power Five institution and yet, we did everything we could with what we had available. Those challenges I dealt with and overcame, I think, will make me a better leader for Martin and for our student-athletes.
Sure, over the years, I’ve made some mistakes, but I wouldn’t change for a second the passion I’ve brought to the table. I think I’ve won more great decisions than not so great ones. And with those, we learned from them. I’m here to assist in the decision-making. I’ve sat in “The Chair” before, and I think that’s part of my value as I return to the Eagles.
With anything that’s going to happen great, there is risk. And to be in The Chair, that’s always a risk. I think our personalities will work together. I can get Martin up to speed a little quicker as I’m more familiar with the Boston College way.
In the end, this is about being the best we can be. There will be no ego, no selfishness. This is about winning the game, in the classroom, around the community and on the field.
I believe Boston College has so much more in its history and what it stands for and for what that Jesuit education means.
Energy. Passion. Purpose.
I saw it first-hand with Jerry York. With Tom O’Brien. With Cathy Inglese. With Al Skinner and so many other leaders. Now, I’m ready to see it again.