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The University of Tennessee, as the state's land grant university, draws the nickname of its athletic teams (Volunteers) from the name most associated with the state.

Tennessee acquired its name "The Volunteer State" in the early days of the nineteenth century in the War of 1812. At the request of President James Madison, Gen. Andrew Jackson, later President, mustered 1500 from his home state to fight the Indians and later the British at the Battle of New Orleans.

The name became even more prominent in the Mexican War when Gov. Aaron V. Brown issued a call for 2800 men to battle Santa Ana and some 30,000 Tennesseans volunteered. The dragoon uniform (left) worn by Tennessee regulars during that conflict is still seen adorning the color guard at UT athletic events.

The term "Volunteer State," as noted through these two events, recognizes the long-standing tendency of Tennesseans to go above and beyond the call of duty when their country calls. The name "Volunteers" is frequently shortened to "Vols" in describing Tennessee's athletic teams.

The Hill

Since the 1800s, "The Hill" has been symbolic of the higher education in the state of Tennessee. The University, founded in 1794 as Blount College moved to "The Hill" in 1828 and quickly grew around it.

The main part of UT's old campus stands on this rising bank above the north shore of the Tennessee River. Neyland Stadium sprawls at the base of The Hill, between it and the River.

Years of constant expansion and development have pushed the campus west of The Hill. Ayres Hall (left), built in 1919, holds a commanding view over the campus and houses the College of Arts and Sciences, and still provides the most dynamic and recognizable scenes on campus. Next to that building is the oldest building on campus, South College Hall, built in 1872. Today "The Hill" is the center of activity for the majors of natural sciences, mathematics, computer sciences and engineering.

School Colors: Orange & White

The colors Orange and White were selected by Charles Moore, a member of the first football team in 1891, and were later approved by a vote of the student body.

The colors were those of the common American daisy which grew in profusion on The Hill. Tennessee football players did not appear in the now-famous Orange jerseys until the season-opening game in 1922. Coach M.B. Banks' Vols won that game over Emory and Henry by a score of 50-0.

The school colors are utilized in Tennessee's famous checkerboard endzones at Neyland Stadium. The unique design accompanied coach Doug Dickey’s arrival in 1964 when the Vols played Boston College. The colorful and popular end zones were a part of Tennessee football until 1968 when the natural sod was dug out and artificial turf was put in its place. In 1989, with Dickey as athletic director, brought the trademake endzones back when workers installed the orange and white end zones and the interlocking UT at the 50-yard line in the summer of 1989. They were both completely inlaid with contrasting colored turf rather than painted turf. The Orange & White checkerboard end zones continued when the Vols returned to natural grass in 1994.

Volunteer Navy

In 1962 former Vol broadcaster George Mooney found a quicker and more exciting way to get to Neyland Stadium other than fighting the notorious Knoxville traffic. Mooney navigated his little runabout down the Tennessee River to the stadium and spawned what would later become the "Volunteer Navy."

Today, approximately 200 boats of all shapes and sizes make up this giant floating tailgate party. Tennessee, Washington and Pittsburgh are the only institutions with stadia adjacent to bodies of water.

Mascot: "Smokey"

Smokey's Reigns 
Smokey 1953-1954
Smokey II 1955-1964
Smokey III 1965-1977
Smokey IV 1978-1979
Smokey V 1980-1983
Smokey VI 1984-1991
Smokey VII 1992-1994
Smokey VIII 1995-2003
Smokey IX 2004-Present

After a student poll sponsored by the Pep Club revealed a desire to select a live mascot for the University, the Pep Club held a contest in 1953 to select a coonhound, a native breed of the state, as the mascot to represent the school. Announcements of the contest in local newspapers read, “This can’t be an ordinary hound. He must be a ‘Houn’ Dog’ in the best sense of the word.”

The late Rev. Bill Brooks entered his prize-winning blue tick coon hound, “Brooks’ Blue Smokey,” in the contest. At halftime of the Mississippi State game that season, the dogs were lined up on the old cheerleaders’ ramp at Shields-Watkins Field. Each dog was introduced over the loudspeaker and the student body cheered for their favorite, with “Blue Smokey” being the last hound introduced. When his name was called, he barked. The students cheered and Smokey threw his head back and barked again. This kept going until the stadium was in an uproar and UT had found its mascot. Rev. Brooks supplied UT with the line of canines until his death in 1986 when his wife, Mildred, took over the caretaking role. She did so until 1994, when her brother and sister-in-law, Earl and Martha Hudson of Knoxville, took over responsibility for Smokey VII and eventually Smokey VIII, with Smokey IX now carrying on the banner of the Smokey lineage. Mrs. Brooks died in July 1997.

One of the most beloved figures in the state, Smokey is famous for leading the Vols out of the giant “T” prior to each home game. The dogs have led exciting lives. Smokey II was dognapped by Kentucky students in 1955 and later survived a confrontation with the Baylor Bear at the 1957 Sugar Bowl. Smokey VI, who suffered heat exhaustion in the 140-degree temperatures at the 1991 UCLA game, was listed on the Vols injury report until he returned later in the season. Smokey III compiled a 105-39-5 record and two SEC championships. Smokey VI, who passed away in 1991, was on the sidelines for three SEC championships. Smokey VIII is the winningest Smokey, having compiled a record of 91-22 (.805), with two SEC titles and the 1998 national championship. The newest Smokey, Smokey IX (left), began his post at the 2004 Peach Bowl.

Pride of the Southland Band

The University of Tennessee band was organized immediately after the Civil War when the University reopened. Since then, the enrollment in the band program has grown to more than four hundred students (in all bands) from all colleges of the university.

Director of Bands, Dr. Gary Sousa, heads up a program which has maintained a long-standing reputation as one of the nation’s finest musical organizations.
The band staff includes Dr. Don Ryder, Associate Director of Bands and Drill Designer, along with Dr. Ed Powell, Assistant Director.

The band program is divided into several different units. The most famous of these units is the marching band, The full “Pride of the Southland Band,” appears at all home football games and most out-of-town games before more than 850,000 spectators plus millions more on television.

The “Pride of the Southland” has represented the state of Tennessee for the last 40 years at ten consecutive Presidential Inaugurations, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. The band has also made more than 40 bowl appearances, including the Sugar Bowl, Astro Bluebonnet Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Gator Bowl, Hall of Fame Bowl, Garden State Bowl, Sun Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl.

When the UT Marching Band takes the field, the crowd reaction truly indicates that it is not only the Pride of all Tennesseans, but the “Pride of the Southland.”

Distinguished Alumni

The quality of a university often is measured by the success of its graduates. Among the University of Tennessee’s 300,000 alumni are women and men who have distinguished themselves in many walks of life.

  • There are more than 300,000 alumni worldwide.
  • States with most UT alumni: Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina
  • The UT National Alumni Association chapters: 117 nationwide
  • More than 9,200 degrees awarded last year
  • Graduates and former students automatically become members of the UT National Alumni Association.
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame

The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame was founded by a group known as the Middle Tennessee Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association. Its early growth was due largely to three of the founders: C. E. Jackson Jr., Charlie Sons and the Rev. A. Richard Smith. The late Bernie Moore, retired commissioner of the SEC, and the late Bishop Frank Julian guided the fledgling Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in its struggle for recognition. In 1966, the prep sportswriters and sportscasters spent their last $300 to finance the first banquet.

Hundreds of Vols have been named to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Find out who is on the list HERE or by clicking the graphic to the left.

National and Southeastern Conference Champions
National Powers
The University of Tennessee has garnered 20 national championships all-time. Seven have come in women’s basketball and six in football, while men’s outdoor track & field has three and men’s indoor track & field, cross country, swimming & diving and women’s indoor track & field all have one each.
All-Time National Championships
Basketball - Women’s (7) 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007
Cross Country - Men’s (1) 1972
Football (6)1938, 1940, 1950, 1951, 1967, 1998
Indoor Track & Field - Men’s (1) 2002
Indoor Track & Field - Women’s (1) 2005
Outdoor Track & Field - Men’s (3) 1974, 1991, 2001
Swimming & Diving - Men’s (1) 1978
SEC Prominence
Tennessee has claimed 110 men's SEC championship team titles, the most of any league school, and 33 women's team titles for a total of 143 through the 2006-07 academic season.
All-Time SEC Championships
Baseball (3) 1951, ‘94, ‘95
Basketball - Men’s (8) 1936, ‘41, ‘43, ‘67, ‘72 (co), ‘77 (co), ‘82 (co), 2000 (co)
Basketball - Women's (13) 1980, '85, '90, '93, '94, '95, '98, '99, 2000 (co), '01, '02, '03, '04
Cross Country - Men’s (25) 1950, ‘51, ‘52, ‘53, ‘57, ‘64, ‘66, ‘67, ‘68, ‘69, ‘70, ‘72, ‘73, ‘75, ‘76, ‘77, ‘78, ‘79, ‘82, ‘83, ‘84, ‘85, ‘86, ‘90, ‘91
Cross Country - Women’s (5) 1983, '90, '03, '04, '05
Football (13) 1938, ‘39 (co), ‘40, ‘46 (co), ‘51 (co), ‘56, ‘67, ‘79, ‘85, ‘89 (co), ‘90, ‘97, ‘98
Golf - Men’s (2) 1980, ‘90
Indoor Track & Field - Men's (18) 1964, ‘65, ‘66, ‘67, ‘68, ‘69, ‘70, ‘71, ‘73, ‘74, ‘81, ‘82, ‘83, ‘84, ‘85, ‘86, ‘91, ‘96
Indoor Track & Field - Women's (3) 1984, 2005, 2007
Outdoor Track & Field - Men's (24) 1964, ‘65, ‘66, ‘67, ‘68, ‘69, ‘70, ‘71, ‘72, ‘73, ‘74, ‘75, ‘76, ‘77, ‘78, ‘81, ‘82, ‘83, ‘84, ‘85, ‘86, ‘91, 2001, ‘02
Outdoor Track & Field - Women's (4) 1981, '82, '83, '84
Soccer - Women’s (3) 2003, '04, '05
Softball - (1) 2006
Swimming & Diving - Men’s (10) 1969, ‘72, ‘73, ‘74, ‘75, ‘76, ‘77, ‘78, ‘89, ‘96
Tennis - Men’s (7) 1951 (co), ‘66, ‘70, ‘80, ‘86, ‘90, 2000 (co)
Volleyball - Women’s (4) 1981, '82, '84, 2004 (co)


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