Tennessee's second basketball championship this decade and strong showings in football and tennis propelled the Vols to a first-place finish on the men's side of the 2007-08 Southeastern Conference All-Sports Trophy standings.
The basketball team under head coach Bruce Pearl won its first league crown since 2000 and first outright conference championship in 41 years. Football won the Eastern Division title and advanced to the SEC Championship Game for the fifth time in the last 11 years under head coach Phillip Fulmer, while tennis under second-year head coach Sam Winterbotham tied for second in regular season play and advanced to the conference tournament semifinals.
"The fact that the SEC is so competitive makes this accomplishment that much more impressive," athletics director Mike Hamilton said. "It validates all the hard work of our coaches, student-athletes and staff who support their efforts."
"It also is a tribute to our great university and great fans, and to their loyalty and the emphasis they put on success in athletics."
Florida won the women's competition and was first overall with 159.5 points in the annual ranking of SEC sports programs by the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group.
Tennessee (128.5 points) placed finished fourth on the women's ledger and was a combined third in the All-Sports Trophy standings. Georgia (140.0) was second overall after finishing second in the women's rankings and third in men's. LSU (136.5) was third in women's and fourth in men's for a fourth-place overall showing.
Balance was the key to UT's championship finish on the men's side as the Vols earned 64.5 points -- one better than second-place Florida.
Swimming and diving claimed third-place honors under head coach John Trembley. Both track and field squads, indoor and outdoor, also finished third under head coach Bill Webb, while cross country placed fourth at its annual meet under head coach George Watts. Golf behind head coach Jim Kelson settled for sixth in defense of its 2007 SEC title, while first-year head coach Todd Raleigh and the baseball Vols were 10th.
"The athletics program at Tennessee is in great shape," Hamilton said. "And our best days are ahead of us."
Auburn placed fifth on the men's side, followed by Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, with South Carolina and Mississippi State tying for 11th.
The All-Sports Trophy awards points based on order of finish within conference competitions. Regular season standings are used for baseball, basketball and tennis; the SEC Championship Game decides the football winner; and cross country, golf, swimming and diving, and track and field decide their placements at championship meets and tournaments.
The New York Times Regional Newspaper Group began presenting the award in 1994 after taking over from the SEC office and, before that, the Knoxville Journal.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information & Public Relations