KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Vol for Life and five-time National Football League Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning and his wife, Ashley, announced Friday a $3 million leadership commitment to the University of Tennessee. This gift commitment will benefit both the Tennessee football program and the Peyton Manning Scholarship Endowment.
This commitment will also honor two individuals, Gus Manning and Carmen Tegano, who are very special to Peyton Manning. Gate 16 at Neyland Stadium will be named the Gus Manning Gate, honoring the Tennessee legend who has served the University and its athletic program for 64 years.
Gus joined the UT department of athletics in 1951 as the sports information director and worked closely for many years as the top assistant within athletics to Gen. Robert R. Neyland. He has served in many roles during his tenure at Tennessee, including responsibility for all business operations as a senior associate athletics director and also as the executive assistant to director of athletics Doug Dickey.
The Carmen and Deborah Tegano Student-Athlete Dining Hall will be established in the new residence hall under construction at the corner of Lake Loudoun Boulevard and Volunteer Boulevard on the UT campus. Carmen is an associate athletics director for UT and is in his 31st year of service to the University, while Deborah was one of Peyton's professors during his time at UT.
Carmen serves as a liaison for former student-athletes as well and maintains close relationships with many former Vols to this day. He is currently the sport administrator for the UT baseball program, and his previous roles within the athletics department include oversight for the academic services and student life programs, assisting with development-related projects, and administrative oversight of several sports.
"Gus and Carmen both personify what it means to be a Vol for Life, and both have made the University of Tennessee a better place," said Peyton Manning. "No one has served Tennessee and its athletics program better than Gus, and Carmen has also served this University with tremendous distinction.
"We have been fortunate to maintain a close friendship with Gus, Carmen, and Debbie Tegano since I left UT, and our sincere hope is that the decision to honor them in this way is reflective of the positive impact they continue to have on this great University."
Awarded annually since the 1998-99 academic year, the Peyton Manning Scholarship is a four-year scholarship presented to first-year students participating in the University of Tennessee Honors Program. The Manning Scholarship covers the costs of tuition, room, and board and is granted on the basis of academic achievement, leadership and community service. The goal of this gift is to expand the annual number of students who will receive four-year scholarships per class from two to four annually, and to date, this scholarship program has distributed $526,000 in scholarship money to 21 students.
"We are grateful for the opportunities we have had to give the gift of an education to deserving UT students every year through the scholarship program," said Peyton Manning. "It means a great deal to us to give young people an edge in maximizing their potential.
"This scholarship program and its recipients have developed into a family, and witnessing the growth and successes of these students academically, personally, and ultimately as professionals in the workforce has made this one of our most rewarding endeavors."
In addition to the scholarship program that bears his name, Peyton has supported numerous campus, athletics department, and UT football-related initiatives since leaving UT in 1997, as a lead donor in the Neyland Stadium Master Plan renovations and specifically the Peyton Manning Locker Room, as well as donating to the state-of-the-art Anderson Training Center project. Peyton has also made significant contributions to the Thornton Center and the College of Communications. The current gift commitment will also be utilized to benefit the football program.
"I believe very strongly in the direction in which Coach Jones is leading our football program," said Peyton Manning. "There is a great deal of momentum and energy surrounding Tennessee Football right now, and I look forward to what this team will accomplish in the coming years."
Peyton is entering his 18th season in the NFL and currently serves as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos. A five-time NFL Most Valuable Player and 14-time Pro Bowler, he is a Super Bowl champion who holds the record for the most career touchdown passes in NFL history (530). A four-year letterman and 1997 All-American at Tennessee, Manning led the Vols to the 1997 SEC Championship. He owned a 39-6 record as a starting quarterback at UT and is the school's career record holder in yards passing, touchdown passes, completions, completion percentage, and 300-yard games.
Peyton earned his Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications in three years, graduating at the end of his junior year. He returned for his senior season in 1997 and was honored that year with the Sullivan Award, presented annually to the nation's top amateur athlete based on character, leadership, athletic ability, and the ideals of amateurism.
A GTE Academic All-American in 1997 and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Peyton also won the prestigious Burger King Vincent Draddy Scholar-Athlete of the Year, an honor that included a $100,000 endowed scholarship to the university. He also was named the Maxwell Trophy award winner for college football's best player while also capturing a pair of awards that honor the nation's top quarterback in the Davey O'Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Award.
The longest-serving member of Tennessee's athletic department, Charles A. "Gus" Manning has been with the department for the past 64 years. Hired by UT's first athletics director, Gen. Robert Neyland, in 1951, Manning has been everything from sports information director and administrative assistant, to assistant, associate and senior associate athletics director.
While working for General Neyland, Manning's responsibilities included, but were not limited to the following: ticketing, security, game-day traffic and parking, band and cheerleaders, visiting locker room, programs and concessions, public address and scoreboard, halftime festivities, stadium cleanup, stadium and field house seating, ushers and janitorial staff, faculty advisor, track, baseball diamond and tennis courts maintenance, broadcasts originating from Neyland Stadium, the Sunday TV program during football season, the stadium store (East and South Stadium Hall dining facility), practice-field maintenance and groundskeepers, the public relations program, speakers for high school banquets, civic clubs, etc., purchasing, receiving and accounting for athletics, and team travel.
The 91-year old Manning is UT Athletics liaison and member of the selection committee boards for the Tennessee Sports and Knoxville Sports Halls of Fame. He is a fixture at nearly all UT home sporting events, and a few on the road. He's also a familiar sight while driving around campus on his mid-1990s model Cushman.
Manning was married to the late Margaret Bussell Manning and is the father to one son, Sammy and three grandchildren.
Carmen Tegano has served the Tennessee Athletics Department since 1985. His primary responsibilities include oversight of the baseball program. During his tenure on Rocky Top, he has also worked in the office of development in the area of fundraising and endowments from former student-athletes. He has also served as the Associate Athletics Director for Student Life.
Tegano holds a doctorate from Virginia Tech, where he served as an assistant athletics director before joining the Tennessee staff. He coached at both the high school and college levels prior to entering athletics administration in 1980.
Tegano has been an adjunct professor at Tennessee and has taught courses in the area of athletics administration and leadership.
A native of Erie, Pa., Tegano and his wife Deborah have two daughters, Rachel and Mary Katherine. He earned his undergraduate degree at Slippery Rock (Pa.).