Nov. 11, 2002
"No one would be prouder of Jim Haslam today than his coach, Bob Neyland."
That's what Athletics Director Doug Dickey said in dedication ceremonies Saturday, Nov. 9, for the newly named Haslam Field on the University of Tennessee campus.
The practice facility was named in honor of James A. (Jim) Haslam II, captain of the 1952 University of Tennessee football team, senior member of the University's Board of Trustees, having served since 1980, and local civic and business leader. He is chair of the Executive Committee of the Athletics Board.
Haslam is founder and chairman of Pilot Corp., which currently operates 67 convenience stores in Tennessee and Virginia. Pilot Travel Centers LLC operates 237 travel centers in 38 states, with annual sales for 2001 in excess of $4 billion.
Dickey and UT President Dr. John W. Shumaker paid tribute to Haslam's life and career at the plaque unveiling and site dedication on the north end of the practice field where the Army Reserve Building once stood.
In his acceptance, Haslam looked back at his days as a Vol, beginning some 54 years ago. "I came here as a 17-year-old kid and looked 15," he said in his acceptance remarks. "Gordon Polofsky looked 25.
Here's what the plaque honoring Haslam says:
"We all learned a lot on this field. Number one, we had to work hard. Number two, we were accountable. Number three, football was about blocking and tackling. Number four, we had to be part of a team. That's what life is all about. I hope that future generations will learn the same lessons that Gordon, Hank Lauricella, Bob Davis, Herky Payne, John Michels, Andy Kozar, Pat Shires and I learned on this field."
Dr. Shumaker praised Haslam as a leader and difference-maker. "As a leader, he hasn't asked anyone to do anything he hasn't already done himself. He has thrown himself into a dazzling array of projects at UT and in the community. Things always seem to be a whole lot better when he finishes than they were when he started. He's been a loyal and dedicated friend to this University and community.
"His imprint can be found on the important decisions that have been made to help make this University and this community better. He has built a successful business, bringing services and good job opportunities to people in communities all across the country, not just in East Tennessee. The Haslam name carries a great deal of clout for the betterment of the community. No one has challenged his integrity or his commitment to making things better for all of us."
It was a significant moment, Dickey said, as strains of the University of Tennessee "Alma Mater" emanated in the background from nearby band practice. "We honor the 50 years of service Jim Haslam has given the University. There is no more fitting place for his name to be permanently etched than on the campus where he started his Tennessee career.
"When the University of Tennessee has called, Jim Haslam has answered. When there is a community need, in Knoxville, or wherever Pilot does business, Jim Haslam has answered. When civic and political leaders, in Knoxville, Nashville, or even Washington come calling, Jim Haslam has answered."
Improvements to the practice field began last spring when the Armory was demolished following the Army Reserve's move in March to new quarters off Middlebrook Pike. The old offensive practice field was regraded and lengthened to 120 yards and a new 85-yard field was constructed along Johnny Majors Drive. Ornamental brick and fencing have been installed around the perimeter, dramatically improving the look of the facility. The next phase of improvements is scheduled to begin in January 2003and will include lengthening of the Robert E. White Indoor Practice Field from 70 to 120 yards.
The gift to create Haslam Field is part of a comprehensive program for new, renovated and expanded facilities benefiting 17 of UT's 20 men and women's intercollegiate sports. These improvements are designed to enable UT to continue to compete for SEC and NCAA championships in each of its sports.