Good Afternoon, Big Orange Nation!
Hopefully you’ve seen the good news just released that our football game this Saturday will be played as scheduled with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. ET at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by Hurricane Irma throughout the South. I am grateful for the constant communication of Florida AD Scott Stricklin and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey over the last several days, and we are all appreciative for the hard work of the Gainesville and UF officials to affirm their ability to host the game. Safe travels to all the Volunteer faithful heading south, and let’s get our SEC season started right!
Here in Knoxville, we were blessed with a picture-perfect day for our 42-7 victory over Indiana State. After spending five hours prior to the game walking about eight miles in and around the stadium and our parking lots visiting with our fans and stadium workers, it was pretty awesome to see Ty Chandler streaking toward where I was standing near the northeast corner of the end zone for an opening kickoff touchdown! What a perfect beginning to the game and a great “Welcome to Rocky Top” for Chancellor Davenport’s first Neyland experience!
I was proud of Coach Butch Jones, his staff, and our team for the way they handled the short preparation week from the emotional late-night victory over Georgia Tech and came out and put the game away early. There were a number of near upsets around the country, and it was nice to not be one of them!
As a result, I was able to spend much of the game walking around the stadium and visiting with fans and looking at some of the areas we have marked for improvements as we continue preparations for the next step of the Neyland Stadium Master Plan. Certainly, we are all proud of our beloved, historic home venue, which is approaching its centennial in 2021. As that milestone nears, we’re working diligently to extend the life of Neyland Stadium so future generations of Tennessee diehards can enjoy one of the most unique fan experiences in the world.
In addition to basic safety and access upgrades, our focus for the renovations include significant upgrades to our grass roots fan amenities, especially in the south and east concourse and restroom areas—further enhancing the fan experience at Neyland—as well as upgrading the exterior finish to better align with recent campus aesthetic upgrades.
We’ll have more to share later this year, but I am excited about our planning progress and look forward to keeping you updated.
UNDEFEATED SOCCER TEAM HOSTS SEC OPENER SUNDAY AT 6 PM
We actually have two undefeated “football” teams at Tennessee, as Coach Brian Pensky‘s women soccer squad is off its best start in program history following this past Sunday’s 3-1 victory over the ACC’s Virginia Tech Hokies! Our SEC opener is this Sunday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. ET as Tennessee hosts Kentucky in what should be a loud Regal Stadium before a national ESPNU audience.
Did you know that we have outscored our opponents 19-2 so far this season? And junior Khadija Shaw already has six goals in only eight games! This is an exciting team to watch. Remember that parking and admission is free, so bring the whole family.
VOLLEYBALL LOOKS TO REMAIN PERFECT AT HOME
After having three road matches cancelled last week due to Hurricane Irma, our volleyball team returns to action this weekend when it hosts the Rocky Top Invitational at Thompson-Boling Arena. We play Marshall on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, and the match will be streamed live on SEC Network+. Then on Saturday, we face USC Upstate at 10 a.m. ET followed by Furman at 7 p.m. ET.
KAYLA SMITH PROMOTED
Last week we announced that Kayla Smith, who has been an integral part of our NCAA CHAMPS Life Skills/Student-Athlete Development programming over the last three years, has been promoted to Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Engagement and is joining the UTAD senior leadership team. If you missed the press release, you can read it here. We are committed to our “Mission Goal” of a World-Class Student-Athlete Experience, and—as I stated in our release—Kayla’s efforts ensure that we are at the forefront when it comes to community outreach, career discovery and preparing our young men and women for the next phases of life.
UT RANKED 46th NATIONALLY BY U.S. NEWS
It was great to learn that the University of Tennessee maintained its top-50 status on the 2018 U.S. News and World Report public undergraduate rankings, released today. In total, UT has 24 programs that earned national top-25 rankings.
The Haslam College of Business (27th nationally) and The Tickle College of Engineering’s undergraduate program (34th nationally) both received particularly high marks. Across all colleges and our entire campus, however, there is extraordinary work being done with countless achievements taking place every day.
Our Sept. 23 football game against UMass is set for a noon ET kickoff. A limited number of tickets are still available at AllVols.com.
And lastly, as a huge fan of our world-class Pride of the Southland Marching Band, I encourage you to check out this story about this season marking the first time in the band’s 148-year history that both its drum major and assistant drum major are women. Really cool stuff!
Go Big Orange!