KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT/SUBMITTED) -- The Tennessee basketball program’s meteoric rise in prominence under head coach Bruce Pearl continued Wednesday, when ESPN announced that the Volunteers will be featured in one of its popular College GameDay Driven by State Farm® matchups for the fourth straight season.
What makes this season’s GameDay broadcast especially historic, however, is that it will precede the franchise’s first-ever same-school doubleheader. The Vols host the Commodores Jan. 15 at noon ET, and then the Tennessee Lady Vols, led by coaching icon Pat Summitt, will play the Vanderbilt women at 8 p.m. ET.
“With the fan passion and dedication for its men’s and women’s programs, Tennessee was a natural fit to be our doubleheader site,” said Nick Dawson, director, ESPN programming and acquisitions. “We are confident the university and coach Pearl and coach Summitt will have the fans fired up and ready to go for GameDay and the national game telecasts.”
This marks the second time in three years that College GameDay will broadcast live from Thompson-Boling Arena. And with North Carolina and UCLA not taking part in GameDay matchups this season, Tennessee now owns the nation’s longest active streak of GameDay appearances (four).
“The opportunity to host GameDay and share the national spotlight with Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols is really going to draw attention to a combined basketball program that’s as good as any in the nation,” Pearl said. “Our rivalry with Vanderbilt often flies under the radar—in comparison to Kentucky or Florida—and this will be an opportunity for ESPN to demonstrate the rich traditions of both schools here in Tennessee.”
Summitt echoed Pearl’s sentiments about the impending historic doubleheader.
“The opportunity to have ESPN GameDay in Knoxville is tremendous for the University of Tennessee,” Summitt said. “It will be an ‘All Vol’ day taking on SEC and cross-state rival Vanderbilt. This will be a treat for Tennessee basketball fans and great exposure for both the Lady Vols and the Vols.”
The Volunteers previously hosted the GameDay crew—which included Rece Davis, Hubert Davis, Digger Phelps, Bob Knight, Jay Bilas and Erin Andrews—for a home win over Florida on Jan. 31, 2009.
“They were enthusiastic and proved that Tennessee is a legitimate basketball school,” Bilas said after experiencing the electric atmosphere in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Hubert Davis took it one step further by adding, “(Thompson-Boling Arena) is the prettiest arena I have seen, as well as the largest. It would be really cool if one of my kids ended up going to school there.”
GameDay also was present Feb. 23, 2008, when the second-ranked Vols traveled to top-ranked Memphis and upset the Tigers 66-62 to earn the program's first-ever No. 1 national ranking. With 5.28 million viewers, that epic contest was the most-watched college basketball game in ESPN history at that time.
Last season, UT saw its streak of GameDay perfection snapped when it dropped a 73-62 contest at Kentucky. The Vols avenged that setback two weeks later by defeating the second-ranked Wildcats 74-65 in Knoxville.
The College GameDay telecasts—a two-hour morning show each Saturday from 10-noon ET as well as a one-hour evening show (starting at 7 p.m. ET when Tennessee hosts)—originate from the site of the Saturday Primetime game for eight consecutive weeks from Jan. 15 to March 5 and is generally presented from inside or around the home team’s arena.
This is the seventh consecutive season that ESPN has conducted College GameDay Driven by State Farm® broadcasts for men’s basketball.
Tennessee’s complete 2010-11 men’s schedule is expected to be released in the coming days. Season tickets go on sale Sept. 8 at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be purchased online at UTtix.com.
The athletic department will host a “Meet Your Seats” event at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sept. 7—one day before the public sale begins—during which fans can see the available inventory for both men’s and women’s basketball season tickets and “test drive” their seats. The event runs from 3-7 p.m. ET, free parking will be available in the G-10 garage (directly east of the arena) and the ticket office will process all new orders on site.