The University of Tennessee (UT), sometimes called the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT Knoxville or UTK), is the flagship institution of the statewide land-grant University of Tennessee public university system in the American state of Tennessee. Officially, the University of Tennessee's total enrollment in the fall semester of 2005 was 28,552, of which 23,131 were full-time students and 5,421 were part-time. Undergraduates numbered 20,286 students, while graduate students made up the balance of 8,266. UT enrolled 4,183 first-time freshmen.
The University of Tennessee is unusual among major U.S. universities in having completely separate athletic departments for men's and women's sports (another such school is the University of Arkansas). Men's teams are called the Volunteers and women's teams the Lady Volunteers. Tennessee plays in the NCAA Division I and is a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
In 1953 the campus Pep Club sponsored a contest to have a live mascot. The hound was chosen since it is a native breed and its small stature and loud baying represent a unique combination. Announcements recruiting potential mascots in a local newspaper read, "This can't be an ordinary hound. He must be a 'Houn' Dawg' in the best sense of the word." The Rev. William C. "Bill" Brooks entered his prizewinning Bluetick Coonhound "Brooks' Blue Smokey," which won over the other eight contestants. Although he was the last hound to be introduced at the half-time contest, Smokey barked when his name was called. The students cheered and Smokey threw his head back and howled again and UT had its new mascot. The current mascot is Smokey IX. He is looked after by two student trainers from Alpha Gamma Rho, a national agricultural fraternity.
Tennessee is known as the "Volunteer State" for the overwhelming, unexpected number of Tennesseans who volunteered for duty in the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Texas Revolution, most notably The Alamo, and especially the Mexican-American War as well as an overwhelming number of citizens volunteering for both sides of the civil war. A UT athletic team was dubbed the Volunteers for the first time in 1902 by the Atlanta Constitution following a football game against Georgia Tech. The Knoxville Journal and Tribune did not use the name until 1905. By the fall of 1905 both the Journal and the Knoxville Sentinel were using the nickname. With the creation of women's athletics later in the 20th century, female athletic teams became known as the Lady Volunteers. All varsity teams continue to use their respective nicknames today, although often shortened by cheering fans to just "Vols" and "Lady Vols."
Charles Moore, president of the university's athletic association, chose orange and white for the school colors on April 12, 1889. His inspiration is said to have come from orange and white daisies which grew on the Hill. These flowers can still be seen today growing outside of the University Center. Although students confirmed the colors at a special meeting in 1892, dissatisfaction caused the colors to be dropped. No other acceptable colors were agreed to, however, so the colors were reinstated one day later. Orange and white have remained the university colors since.
The men's and women's basketball teams play in Thompson-Boling Arena, the largest arena (by capacity) ever built specifically for basketball in the United States. While official capacity is 24,535, official attendance topped out at 24,653 for a Lady Vols' game against arch-rival UConn on January 7, 2006. That game set the all-time record for an NCAA regular-season women's game.
The men's basketball program is headed by Bruce Pearl. Through his guidance, the men's program has been revitalized and claimed the 2005-2006 SEC East Title and closed the season with a 22-8 record and an NCAA Division I Men's Tournament berth. In men's basketball, the most important rivalries are with Kentucky and, to a slightly lesser degree, Florida and Vanderbilt.
In 2007 the Vols were seeded fifth in the South region of the NCAA tournament. They ran over Long Beach State in the first round, 121-86. To reach the Sweet Sixteen, Tennessee came up big against #4 seed Virginia, winning 77-74. In the next round, however, the South Regional Semi-finals, they lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes, 85-84.