The University of Tennessee Athletics Department cordially invites you to help pay for the Doug Dickey Hall of Fame Plaza at the corner of Lake Loudoun Boulevard and Johnny Majors Drive. Construction is underway.
Gifts of $25,000 or more will be recognized with a permanent plaque. Donors of $3,000 or more will get their names inscribed on a special wall. Any amount will be received with gratitude at the UT Foundation, 1551 Lake Loudoun Boulevard, Knoxville 37996.
The Dickey Plaza, named in honor of the former football coach and athletics director, is at the north corner of Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. More than 5,000 square feet have been set aside for hall of fame pavers. Names of top athletes and administrators, pressed into bricks, will be placed strategically throughout the plaza.
The lettermen’s marble wall will be relocated to the area. It recognizes the many who played well but didn’t achieve all-star status.
This classy development will serve as the gateway between the Stokely Family Residence Hall and the sports center. Current athletes go that way each day. Those who look where they are walking will be reminded of the all-time Volunteer greats. That raises the possibility that they will bump into each other.
Creation of the hall of fame was chaotic and remains a somewhat confused work in progress. It was the women’s idea. They got it in 2001.
When Dave Hart was athletics director, there was a merger. Sixty-five men were added in the great equalization of 2016.
Some (including me) thought there was no need for the Vols to honor themselves. The Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame are very accommodating.
Some of the UT requirements for inclusion are strange. Honorees must attend induction ceremonies. That is generally considered difficult for the deceased.
I suppose most people think Volunteers are worthy of as many honors as are offered. At the Dickey Plaza, most will have their very own bricks – Robert R. Neyland, Peyton Manning, Doug Atkins, John Majors, Reggie White, Bob Johnson, Bob Suffridge, Steve Kiner, Steve DeLong, Al Wilson – you get the idea.
Ernie and Bernie, Ron Widby, Dale Ellis, Reggie Johnson and Allan Houston are in. Ray Mears, Jimmy England and A.W. Davis are not. Eventually, if all goes well, they will be. Well, maybe.
Of course, Pat Summit and Chamique Holdsclaw are honored. Ray Bussard, David Edgar, Andy Coan and Jeremy Linn made it. Doug Brown, Dale Ellis, Richmond Flowers, Willie Gault, Justin Gatlin and Bill Skinner are on the list. So are Monica Abbott, Kara Lawson, Holly Warlick and Kellie Jolly.
Oops, I almost missed another page, Phillip Fulmer, Todd Helton, Hank Lauricella, Chip Kell, Phil Garner, Stanley Morgan, Condredge Holloway and Frank Emanuel. There must be 200. It bothers me that there are a few I never heard of and certainly don’t know.
I predict, any day now, former coach and ace recruiter Chuck Rohe will be inducted. I don’t see how you can have a Tennessee hall of fame without him. Some of us think he invented track and field.
It would be OK if Bob Woodruff, John Henderson and Melvin Stewart were honored. Woodruff played and coached football and outmaneuvered Joe Paterno while athletics director. Henderson won the Outland Trophy as the best lineman in the country in 2000. Two NCAA championships are almost incidental in Stewart’s swimming career. He set a world record in the 200 butterfly and won two golds and a silver at the Barcelona Olympics.
Heath Shuler and Eric Berry are other Volunteer gentlemen in waiting.
Speaking of flaws, Neyland wasn’t in the charter class. When men were first admitted, the emphasis was on athletes. I don’t know why. Perhaps the anonymous selection committee, minus certified historians, didn’t grasp what Neyland did.
Dedication of the Dickey Plaza is scheduled for the afternoon of Oct. 4. That date reduces costs. Dickey will be in town for the reunion of his 1969 football team.
The dedication is a do-over, a focal point of unfinished business. On Oct. 1, 2015, UT dedicated the Doug Dickey Hall of Fame Plaza and the Doug Dickey Hall of Champions.
“These areas symbolize our history of competitive excellence,” said Hart. “It is entirely appropriate to name them for one of the finest leaders in Tennessee athletics history.”
At the ceremony, Dickey said “Tennessee was a great place for me personally and for my family.”
There has never been an official announcement but I think the plaza was not built for lack of funds. Much money was poured into contract buyouts and going-away presents. Even Hart got some.
Fulmer, in his second year as athletic director, has found a solution. Donations will add joy to his decision. Pass the word.
Marvin West welcomes reader comments and questions. His address is Marvinwest75@gmail.com.