Lea, a Nashville native who finished his college career as a fullback at Vanderbilt, is expected to be introduced next week. He will continue working with No. 2 Notre Dame, which faces No. 3 Clemson on Saturday in the ACC championship game. Lea has served as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator the past three seasons, overseeing one of the nation's top defenses.
"Clark Lea is the leader we trust to continue the challenging but exciting work that will elevate the Vanderbilt football program to unprecedented heights," Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Storey Lee said in a statement. "He embodies the demonstrated commitment to success, the integrity and the strategic thinking that it takes to build a winning football program, and help our student-athletes reach their full potential. He understands the important role that athletics plays in the life of a vibrant university, and that outstanding scholarly pursuits and top-notch athletics are integral parts of the Vanderbilt experience."
Lea, 38, replaces Derek Mason, who was fired last month after going 27-55 in six seasons. Lea coached linebackers at South Dakota State, UCLA, Bowling Green, Syracuse and Wake Forest before landing his first coordinator post at Notre Dame.
"I'm excited to come back to Vanderbilt to lead a program, at an institution and in a city, that gave me so much and shaped who I am today," Lea said in a statement. "Vanderbilt is a special place with a competitive drive that I believe can translate into winning."
Vanderbilt on Monday canceled this week's game against Georgia because of COVID-19-related roster availability issues, ending its season at 0-9.