I attended the University of Tennessee and received both my Bachelors and Masters degrees. One could say that I was “double dipped” in the big orange. Clearly, UT had a big influence on who I am and the path that I have taken.
The UT campus is situated on the Tennessee River on at the edge of downtown Knoxville. The campus reflects a variety of architectural styles. The Fort Sanders community adjacent to the campus is home to many students and is an important part of student life. Unfortunately, the unique architecture of this neighborhood has come under significant pressure from development since my years in Knoxville. Many of the older homes that used to house students have undergone urban redevelopment.
Tennessee is a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Widely known as a “football” school, football Saturdays are an experience that is not to be missed. In 1997, Peyton Manning, the UT Quarterback, lead the team to a Conference Championship and 7th place national ranking. In what was billed as a rebuilding year, the 1998 team played to a perfect 13 – 0 season and won another SEC title and the national championship. In a team without “stars”, team play and determination allowed the “no name” bunch to all play to their potential rather than rely on the designated star. In recent years the program has undergone a significant downturn with a rapid succession of coaches and modest success on the field.
One of the iconic figures in UT sports lore is General Neyland. He served three stints as the head football coach as the University of Tennessee. Neyland holds the record for most wins in Tennessee Volunteers history with 173 wins in 216 games, six undefeated seasons, nine undefeated regular seasons, seven conference championships, and four national championships. At Tennessee, he reeled off undefeated streaks of 33, 28, 23, 19, and 14 games. Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee is not only named for the General, but was designed by him. His plans formed the basis for all expansions that brought the stadium to its modern size with an over 100,000 seat capacity. Neyland was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1956. He created the seven “Game Maxims” of football that fans memorize and Tennessee players recite before every game.
While Tennessee football has a deep tradition, the women’s basketball team has eight national championships to its credit, including three consecutive titles from 1996-1998. The Lady Vols have won 16 SEC regular season championships, 16 SEC tournament championships, made 18 Final Four appearances.
Second only to Neyland in stature at UT, Pat Head Summitt built the Lady Vols basketball program and in many ways was instrumental in building the sport of women’s college basketball. She holds the most all-time wins for a coach in NCAA basketball history of either a men’s or women’s team in any division. She coached from 1974 to 2012, all with the Lady Vols, winning eight NCAA national championships, second only to the record 10 titles won by UCLA men’s coach John Wooden. She is the only coach in NCAA history with at least 1,000 victories. Summitt was named the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century in April 2000. In 2009, the Sporting News placed her number 11 on its list of the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time in all sports; she was the only woman on the list. In 38 years as a coach, she never had a losing season. Along with the success on the court, Summitt’s student-athletes had tremendous productivity in the classroom. Coach Summitt held a 100 percent graduation rate for all Lady Vols who completed their eligibility at Tennessee. UT named its basketball court at the Thompson-Boling Arena, “The Summitt,” in her honor.
A slideshow of UT images is below. Click on the navigation bar for a full screen view.