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Ed Scott has been a Memphis Tiger for 48 hours. But the new athletic director is already all in.

Memphis formerly introduced Scott as its new athletic director Friday. (Image Credit: Memphis Athletics)
By Roman Cleary - June 28, 2024, 3:13 pm - 0 comments

Ed Scott received the best news of his professional life Wednesday.

Scott, formerly the deputy athletic director at Virginia, was in the midst of UVA baseball coach Brian O’Connor’s performance review when he got the call.

Memphis’ new athletic director (AD) was obviously thrilled, but maybe not as much as his former boss. Virginia AD Carla Williams, who Scott had worked under since January 2022, started running in place, screaming, “Oh my God! Oh my God,” when Scott came to her office to tell her the news.

He then called his wife, Tara, and told her that he was coming home early with good news—only for her to ask him to pick up their 5-year-old daughter, Tia, on the way since she had to go to the dentist. Later that night, it was Scott’s turn to give Tia a bath.

“On the day I got offered the best opportunity of my professional career, my wife was the first one to humble me. So, it brought my big head right back down into shame,” he said after his introductory press conference Friday.

Scott, who’s been with Tara for 17 years, says his top priority is giving his family a better life than the one he had growing up. He and his mother were below the poverty line during his childhood, and he never knew his father.

He’s dealt with a myriad of bad days personally, but he’s also faced hardships professionally. He survived an academic scandal case at Binghamton University in 2009, which saw several men’s basketball players get arrested and dismissed from the team. He inherited a difficult situation at Morgan State after becoming its AD in 2016, but he later won the 2021-22 Cushman & Wakefield Athletic Director of the Year award from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics for his efforts.

Scott, who replaces Laird Veatch, is now tasked with getting Memphis Athletics to the next level in multiple areas. The school needs to garner more donations, sell more tickets and earn entry into a power conference like the Big 12 or ACC. Scott, however, isn’t fazed.

“Nobody’s gonna put more pressure on me than myself. I’m here because I want to be here. I want to do a good job,” he said. “Pressure does two things: it busts pipes or it makes diamonds. And I like jewelry. So, I’m gonna take the pressure because it’s a privilege. I don’t have to do this. I get to do this every day. When I walk into these facilities, it’s a reminder to me of that privilege. So if that comes with pressure, then I’ll take that pressure because I want that privilege.”

Scott has been in collegiate athletics administration for two decades. He was Morgan State’s AD for more than five years. His duties at Virginia included oversight of sports medicine, strength and conditioning, nutrition, sport psychology, men’s basketball, baseball, swimming & diving, track & field and cross country and diversity, equity and inclusion. He also assisted in football oversight as a special advisor to the head football coach.

But his limitless qualifications aren’t the only reasons why his hiring at Memphis is historic. He’s the school’s eighth AD overall, third since 2012 and the first Black AD in school history.

“It’s bigger than me. I am who I am. I didn’t choose to be Black, but I’m glad I am. I love it and I’m proud of it…I think about all the Black and Brown little children, aspiring ADs that are gonna look at me. And if I’m successful, they’re gonna think they have a chance. That for me is powerful. There’s probably a burden that comes with it, if I’m being completely honest. But it’s also a privilege,” Scott said. “I’m everybody’s AD. I happen to be Black, and that’s important. But I’m the AD for everybody in this department and I’m gonna treat it that way.”

Scott, who played baseball at the University at Albany, isn’t too familiar with the Memphis area besides visiting the city for a friend’s wedding in 2015. He hasn’t seen Beale Street, Graceland, FedExForum, Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium or even the ducks at The Peabody hotel.

But he said multiple times Friday that he’s eager to learn about Memphis as soon as possible, because he doesn’t want his tenure to look like other ADs at other schools. He wants to do things his way, which he hopes is the Memphis way.

“We’re gonna be uniquely Memphis. I don’t wanna be anybody else,” Scott said.


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