Sarah Fuller was all the rage for entering a Vanderbilt football game and handling a kickoff last fall. But her full-time sport is soccer, and the season didn’t end well for either Fuller or the Commodores.
Instead, Vandy was bounced from the NCAA women’s tournament, losing 2-0 to Penn State over the weekend — and Fuller didn’t even get to play. Instead, the senior goalkeeper was replaced by freshman Kate Devine, who made her first career start.
The decision to bench Fuller was “based on play,” or overall performance, Vanderbilt’s sports information director said in a statement.
Vanderbilt coach Darren Ambrose said beforehand he was making the move from Fuller to Devine because he felt it put the team in the best position to win.
“The decision won’t be made because Sarah Fuller has been in the limelight for football,” Ambrose said. “It will be made based on what our goalkeepers have done for the last month or two. The people that have the biggest questions aren’t in my practices every day.”
Vanderbilt was seeded No. 16 in the tourney, finishing the season with a 9-6-1 mark.
Meanwhile, at the time, OutKick founder Clay Travis called Fuller’s college football kickoff a “manufactured stunt” by former Commodores coach Derek Mason in an attempt to save his job.
“First of all, I don’t blame in any way, Sarah Fuller, for the media ridiculousness that has followed her kicking one time to begin the second half for Vanderbilt,” he said. “But this feels to me like a manufactured stunt far more than any sort of significant sports story. Vanderbilt has a punter that punted the ball seven times during Saturday’s game for an average of over 43 yards per kick. It is regular in college football or the NFL for a kicker or punter to get injured, and for someone else to have to do their job because there aren’t enough roster spots to justify having backup kickers, or having backup punters.
“… Also Sarah Fuller, addressed the team at halftime, and lectured them on their effort and team morale. Have you ever heard of a kicker addressing a football team at halftime and reading them the riot act because the kicker didn’t like the effort that he was seeing out on the field? What do you think the reaction was in the Vanderbilt locker room when a girl who had never been on their team during the entire season, and had not stepped foot on the field yet for an actual play, got up and lectured them about their lack of effort and intensity that she could see? It was ridiculous, and if that halftime speech was filmed and if this all turns into a Disney-fied story, this is even more absurd.”
Either way, it didn’t work out for Mason, who was canned after a winless season. He is now the defensive coordinator at Auburn.
As for Fuller, she ended up benched in her final college soccer game. That can happen, and there’s no doubt that she completed her run at Vandy with a fine soccer career. Everything else was manufactured by the former football coach and then blown up by a mainstream media desperate for a feel-good story.