Eight individuals with ties to the University of Tennessee — including three former athletic directors — were inducted into the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame during the 34th annual dinner and induction ceremony Tuesday night at the Knoxville Convention Center.
Legendary quarterback and former NFL MVP Archie Manning was the featured speaker Tuesday. Manning spoke glowingly of current Vols signal-caller Joshua Dobbs, who attended the Manning Passing Academy this summer.
New Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes also spoke briefly to the record-sized, sold-out crowd, acknowledging Lady Vols basketball coach Holly Warlick for the role she played in leading the Unites States women’s team to the gold medal at the 2015 World University Games last month in South Korea. Warlick served as an assistant coach for the American squad, which went 6-0.
In addition to Tennessee’s eight inductees, three other UT greats were honored Tuesday.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who lettered for the Vols from 2000-02, received the Pat Summitt Ignite Greatness Award. WNBA superstar Candace Parker, who helped lead the Lady Vols to consecutive National Championships in 2007 and 2008, received the Chad Pennington Professional Athlete of the Year Award. Finally, former UT team physician Dr. William T. Youmans, received the Special Recognition Award.
Other members of the Class of 2015 included Herman Goddard (auto racing) and Vernon Osborne (high school basketball coach). This year’s 10-member class brings the total number of all-time inductees to 356.
The Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.
One of the greatest decathletes in Tennessee history, Brian Brophy was a three-time All-American who finished no worse than third at any of his three NCAA meets while on Rocky Top. While donning the Orange & White, he placed second in the decathlon at the NCAA Championships in 1990 and third in 1991 to help the Volunteers claim the NCAA outdoor title. He finally achieved the elusive NCAA decathlon individual gold in 1992, winning the crown behind a then-school record 8,276 points. That score remains the No. 2 mark all-time at Tennessee, trailing only former Olympian Tom Pappas at 8,463.
Taking over as women’s athletics director at UT in 1983, Joan Cronan gradually expanded the program from seven to 11 sports and helped the department increase annual giving from $75,000 to more than $2 million per year. During her 29-year tenure (1983-2012), UT won 10 NCAA Championships, 22 SEC regular-season titles and 33 league tourney trophies, finishing first or second in the SEC All-Sports Award race six times. The success by Lady Vol teams was matched by an expectation for excellence in the classroom and a philosophy of giving back to the community. A member of several halls of fame, she holds the distinction of becoming the first female athletics director for the entire department at UT when she served as Interim Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director in 2011.
Manning the outside of a highly touted offensive line for head football coach Johnny Majors at UT, Antone Davis was rewarded for his time in the trenches, receiving All-American status his senior year. He also earned the Jacobs Trophy as the SEC’s top blocker in 1990. Davis was selected by Philadelphia in the first round of the 1991 NFL Draft, and he spent seven years in the NFL. He currently works as the VFL Coordinator for the Tennessee football program.
A veteran of several Knoxville-area media outlets, including WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV, Bob Kesling was named lead announcer on the Vol Radio Network in 1999. He is the play-by-play voice for Tennessee football and basketball on the 70-plus stations that make up the Vol Network. Kesling also has a long history with the Lady Vols basketball program; he served as the radio play-by-play voice from 1978 through 1999 — calling Pat Summitt’s first six NCAA National Championships. Kesling began his association with the University of Tennessee as a walk-on fullback on the 1972 freshman football team and now serves as UT’s director of broadcasting.
Charles McRae was a four-year letterman with the Tennessee football program (1987-90), starring for head coach Johnny Majors. After completion of his senior season, the Clinton, Tennessee, native had played in 41 games at defensive and offensive tackle. He recorded a career-high 28 tackles during his freshman season. Following the Vols’ 1990 campaign, McRae was selected as an All-SEC performer and was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1991 NFL Draft and spent six years in the NFL.
Eddy Powers was a member of the Tennessee football program from 1975-77, playing defensive back under head coaches Bill Battle and Johnny Majors. Following his career with the Vols, the Clarksville, Tennessee, native went on to become a football official. He called games in the SEC for 13 years before moving on to the NFL ranks from 2002-08.
Knoxville native Gloria Ray was the first women’s athletic director at the University of Tennessee (preceding fellow honoree Joan Cronan). Prior to her tenure as AD, Ray coached women’s tennis at Tennessee. She played a key role in the establishment of the Knoxville Sports Corporation and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Ray also made significant contributions to the greater Knoxville community through civic involvement.
Bob Woodruff played tackle at Tennessee under Major Robert R. Neyland from 1936-38 on teams that went a combined 23-5. Woodruff began a career in football coaching that included stops as an assistant at Tennessee (1939 and 1941), Army (1944-45) and Georgia Tech (1946), before taking the reins for head coaching tenures at Baylor (19-10-2 from 1947-49) and Florida (54-42-6 from 1950-59). Woodruff became athletic director at Tennessee after being an assistant coach under former Vol teammate Bowden Wyatt in 1961 and 1962. He served as Tennessee’s AD from 1963-85, overseeing an exciting era of growth and development that saw UT emerge a national power on the collegiate landscape.
Courtesy of: utsports.com