History of the Hall
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, a non-profit 501c3, 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: С. Е. 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. The State Legislature, under the leadership of Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh and Lieutenant Governor John Wilder along with Representative Bill Purcell and Senator Robert Rochelle, passed legislation in 1994 to officially create the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. The legislation passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate of the 98th General Assembly. Very seldom in the history in the state of Tennessee has a piece of legislation ever passed unanimously or as quickly as the “Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Act of 1994.” The creation of the Act began a new era in the history of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. A new Board was founded composed of 25 Tennessee citizens, eight each appointed by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House; the 25th member of the Board is the State Treasurer or his designee. No more than eight of the appointed members shall reside in a grand division of the state. The organizers of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame are grateful to their sponsors for making the commemoration possible; to the citizens of Tennessee, whose enthusiasm has driven the event forward; to the many who have brought wonderful individuals to the attention of the selection committee; and, of course, to the inductees, who have contributed immeasurably to their teams and their communities.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame subscribes to the principle that sports serve society’s highest ideals. By educating youth, through sports, it promotes the virtues of competition, fair play, friendship, solidarity, mutual understanding and respect for human dignity. These principles are identical with those enshrined in the Olympic Charter. The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame focuses the majority of our attention on our educational objectives. The organization is built on the premise that the lessons of sports have a tremendous impact on society. Sports provide a unique opportunity for self-discovery. This is especially true for children, who learn about their physical capabilities, confronting both physical and mental challenges everyday. With proper guidance, they learn that hard work and perseverance bring results. They will inevitably experience defeat, but with sound coaching, they will learn that defeat is only a lesson, and that success and recognition are earned by effort. Sports also provide an opportunity for all kinds of people from greatly differing backgrounds to interact with and enjoy each other. The lessons of sports provide valuable guidance in the quest for a happier, healthier and more productive life. The Hall is a state of the art, 7,200 square foot, interactive facility that is both entertaining and educational. The Hall teaches our students Tennessee history using sports as the catalyst. It honors athletes, coaches, sportswriters, and sports administrators who have made an impact on the history of sports in Tennessee.