Stanford suffered its most significant loss of the offseason Friday when defensive coordinator Derek Mason left to become Vanderbilt's head coach.

Mason will become the fifth African-American head coach in the history of the Southeastern Conference.

"I am so excited to be at Vanderbilt," Mason said at a news conference in Nashville, Tenn. "This university combines the best of what's good about college athletics and academics. We expect to be competitive and look forward to competing for an SEC East crown."

Mason takes over a Commodores program coming off a 9-4 season, capped by a 41-24 win over Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl. He replaces James Franklin, who left for Penn State.

"I am very excited for Derek; this is a great opportunity for he and his wife, Leighanne," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "Derek is a great teacher and motivator, but more importantly he is a man of high character. We wish him success."

Mason's departure adds to the Cardinal's winter exodus. The two-time defending Pac-12 champion is losing nine senior starters, including tailback Tyler Gaffney and linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov. It's losing three early-entry candidates (all starters) to the NFL draft, including All-American guard David Yankey and all-conference safety Ed Reynolds.

It's also losing quarterbacks/receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Sanford, who became offensive coordinator at Boise State.

  • Sixth-ranked UCLA (4-1) opened MPSF men's volleyball play with a 23-25, 25-22, 25-23, 29-31, 15-11 win over No. 1 Stanford (3-1) at Pauley Pavilion. Robart Page's 26th kill of the match ended the almost three-hour contest. Steven Irvin had 22 kills and 13 digs for the Cardinal.

    Soccer

    Santa Clara had two players taken in the National Women's Soccer League college draft. Midfielder Julie Johnston went No. 3 overall to the Chicago Red Stars, and forward Morgan Marlborough, a Missouri native, went in the second round to FC Kansas City. Stanford forward Courtney Verloo was selected ninth overall by the Western New York Flash. She'll join a squad that includes American star Abby Wambach.

    Horse racing

    Among the eight entries for Saturday's $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields is Harbaugh. Original owners Rustin and Juliana Kretz (Kretz Racing) are 49ers fans and named the horse in honor of coach Jim Harbaugh. The Doug O'Neill-trained 3-year-old colt will be ridden by Juan Hernandez in the 11/16-mile race. The morning-line favorite is the Tom Proctor-trained Enterprising, who'll be ridden by Aaron Gryder.

    Wire services contributed to this report.