April 24, 2011
Assistant Tennessee swimming coach Joe Hendee died at his Knoxville home Sunday morning after nearly a year-long battle with brain cancer. He was 50.
Hendee was a tireless supporter and advocate for the UT aquatics program since he arrived as a student assistant coach for legendary head man Ray Bussard in 1978. Hired as Tennessee's first full-time paid assistant coach, Hendee was the heart of Tennessee swimming for more than 30 years.
Under his careful eye, the Big Orange earned a 177-32 (.847) dual-meet record, three SEC crowns and a national title. Tennessee has produced 92 individual SEC champions, 15 individual NCAA champions, three gold medalists and more than 100 All-America selections during Hendee's tenure on The Hill.
When not coaching the Vols, Hendee dutifully served the United States as an international coach and mentor. Shortly after joining Bussard's staff, Hendee worked as the facilities coordinator for the 1982 USSR-USA dual-meet held in UT's Student Aquatic Center. He also assisted Coach Bussard during his stint as a 1984 U.S. Olympic coach. In 1986, Hendee served USA Swimming as a coach at the Elite Training Camp in Chapel Hill, N.C. He also coached at the 1989 and 1993 U.S. Olympic Festivals and worked as a facilities coordinator at UT's Student Aquatic Center prior to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. At the same time, Hendee was preparing UT's Jeremy Linn and Ricky Busquets for the Olympiad.
Hendee's coaching abilities have been called upon before as he has served three times on the staff at the U.S. Junior Nationals. He has also traveled to Athens for the 2000 Short Course World Championships and Barcelona for the 2003 Long Course World Championships.
Because of his dedication and service to The University of Tennessee, Hendee was inducted into the Tennessee Swimming Hall of Fame in 2003. The Hall of Fame's motto, "Honoring those who have served in true Volunteer Tradition," embodies Hendee's career perfectly.
Hendee graduated from Chattanooga's Notre Dame High School in 1979 before earning his degree from Tennessee in 1983. He spent 33 years at UT, making him the longest-tenured assistant coach in the history of men's athletics at Tennessee.
Funeral arrangements were set Monday.
The Hendee family will receive friends Sunday, May 1, at UT's Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center, from 3-8 p.m. There will be a brief celebration of Hendee's life at 7:30 p.m. A funeral mass will take place Monday, May 2, at 11 a.m., at Sacred Heart Cathedral, located at 711 Northshore Dr., in Knoxville.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the UT men's swimming and diving team (UT Athletics 1551 Lake Loudoun Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37996), the Janie B. Sharpe Brain Tumor Fund (KRC 9245 Fox Lonas Road, Knoxville, TN, 37923) or the organization of your choice.