The University of Tennessee Athletics Department recognized six former student-athletes during pre-game of the UT-Arkansas football game on Saturday as part of the of Southeastern Conference’s "Stories of Character."
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the SEC. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the conference is highlighting six former student-athletes from each institution who have earned distinction by positively impacting their community, state, region and nation.
Tennessee’s six “Stories of Character” are:
• Catherine Byrne Maloney -- One of Tennessee’s most accomplished swimmers, Catherine Byrne Maloney was the 1992 NCAA Woman of the Year. When she completed her swimming career at Tennessee, she left as one of the program’s most accomplished student-athletes. Byrne Maloney amassed 14 All-America honors and established three individual records in the backstroke and relay events. In 1989, ’90 and ’92, she earned academic All-America honors from the College Swim Coaches Association of America and was a GTE/CoSIDA At-Large Academic All-America first-team selection. In 1992, Byrne Maloney was named the NCAA Woman of the Year, which honors senior student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. She also received the Woody Hayes Award for leadership in a varsity sport and academic excellence. Today, Byrne Maloney, who earned an education degree and holds master’s degrees in physical therapy and healthcare, is the operations manager for one of the country’s top hospitals.
• Charles Davis -- As a star defensive back for Tennessee in the 1980s, Charles Davis helped lead the Vols to a 1985 Sugar Bowl win. Tennessee fans remember Davis as an intelligent, physical player who helped pace the Volunteers football program back to national prominence. He recorded 234 tackles and 13 interceptions in 39 career games as a defensive back. During his playing career, the Vols were 3-1 in bowl games, including a 1985 Sugar Bowl win over Miami. An Academic All-SEC selection as a senior, Davis began a career in athletics following graduation from Tennessee. After starting off in the college ranks, Davis became the director of Disney’s PGA Tour event. A chance call led to his current career as a college football analyst, and he was part of the Fox broadcast team for the 2007 BCS national championship game. For Davis, the son of a teacher, education always has been just as important as athletics. When he’s not providing commentary on a game, Davis gives his time to the Edgewood Children’s Ranch. A residential facility, Edgewood provides at-risk youth with the individualized education curriculums and counseling aimed at helping them return to their former classrooms with honesty, respect and integrity.
• Benita Fitzgerald Mosley -- The first African-American woman to win Olympic gold in the 100-meters, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley is at the forefront of the telecommunication industry. An All-America and NCAA track and field champion, Fitzgerald Mosely won an Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles in 1984. Her accomplishment made her the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in that event and only the second American, following Babe Didrickson, to accomplish the feat. Since March 2001, Fitzgerald Mosley has served as president of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT). The mission of this 5,000-member organization is to develop female leaders so they can transform the telecommunications industry and the roles they play within the field. Fitzgerald Mosley joined WICT after serving the U.S. Olympic Committee in a variety of roles, including the USOC’s Director of Olympic Training, where she oversaw a staff of 175 and a $15.5 million budget. She is a current trustee and past president of the board of trustees for the Women’s Sports Foundation, an organization that promotes opportunities for girls and women in sports and fitness.
• Jenny McGrath Weaver -- Jenny McGrath Weaver successfully challenged herself at the highest levels, as a swimmer and now as a surgeon. During her student-athlete days at Tennessee, McGrath Weaver excelled both in and out of the pool. A 15-time All-American, she was the SEC champion in the 200-yard individual medley in 1990 and the 200-yard freestyle in 1990 and 1992. Today, McGrath Weaver still holds four UT swimming records. In the classroom, McGrath Weaver was a three-time Academic All-SEC selection as a biomedical engineering major. In 1992, she was awarded the SEC’s H. Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship, given annually to the conference’s top male and female scholar-athletes. McGrath Weaver graduated from the UT-Memphis College of Medicine in 1997 and completed her surgical residency in 2002. In addition to her surgical duties, McGrath Weaver is an assistant clinical professor of surgery at UT-Memphis and serves as a consultant to companies that produce surgical implements.
• Heath Shuler -- Being in the public eye is nothing new to former Tennessee quarterback and current U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler. As a record-setting high school QB from Western North Carolina, he led Swain County to three consecutive state crowns. At Tennessee, Shuler passed for 4,089 yards and 36 touchdowns during his Volunteers career. As a junior in 1993, Shuler was named the SEC Player of the Year by the Nashville Banner and Birmingham News and was a first-team All-SEC pick. Shuler also finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting that season. In addition to his on-the-field accolades, he earned Academic All-SEC distinction. After a seven-year NFL career, Shuler returned to Knoxville to finish his degree. He then entered the business world, building a successful real estate firm with his brother, Benjie, also a former UT football player. In 2001, the brothers announced the Shuler Family Athletic Endowment. In 2006, Shuler won his bid to represent the 11th District of his native North Carolina in Congress.
• Tim Townes -- Tim Townes is tackling sickle cell anemia and other genetic diseases today as a star researcher and professor at one of the nation’s foremost medical universities. Townes was an undersized, but overachieving, walk-on at Tennessee who earned a spot in the Vols’ starting lineup, as well as in the hearts of the UT faithful. Townes, a defensive back who played in every game during his collegiate career, thrilled the crowd with his hard-hitting tackles, smashing into foes with reckless abandon. A scholar athlete, Townes received three degrees from Tennessee, including a master’s in zoology and a Ph.D. in microbiology. Upon completing his graduate studies, followed by a stint in research at the University of Cincinnati, he joined the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine, where he currently serves as chair and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics. In 1997, during his research on the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, Townes discovered a method to genetically engineer mice to create an animal model for studying a human disease. Using this technique, researchers can develop and test new and emerging therapies toward the search for a cure.