The highest individual honor that can be attained at the University of Tennessee should be the retirement of a jersey of an outstanding performer, and a new process for retiring jerseys at UT has been finalized.
Based on the new criteria and nominating process, three former student-athletes will join those who have previously honored with jersey retirement: Monica Abbott (#7) from softball, Dale Ellis (#14) from men’s basketball, and Candace Parker (#3) in women’s basketball.
Abbott will be honored before Tennessee’s game vs. Texas A&M on March 23, 2013 at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. That game is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Ellis and Parker will each be honored with ceremonies to occur before a game during their respective teams’ seasons in 2013-14.
Abbott pitched for the Tennessee softball team from 2004-07, finishing with a 189-34 record and an 0.79 ERA while compiling 112 shutouts, 2,440 strikeouts, 23 no-hitters, six perfect games, and 125 games of 10-plus strikeouts in 253 appearances. She holds the NCAA Division I career record for wins, shutouts, strikeouts, starts (206), innings pitched (1,448) and appearances and led Division I in victories in all four seasons with the Lady Vols.
A native of Salinas, Calif., Abbott was a four-time first team All-American and All-SEC selection and earned SEC Pitcher of the Year distinction in 2004, 2005 and 2007. She won both the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year and the Honda Award for Softball in 2007, and she led Tennessee to three consecutive College World Series appearances from 2005-07, earning 10 wins in CWS games as well as three CWS All-Tournament selections. Abbott also holds almost every significant career and single-season Tennessee softball pitching record.
A native of Marietta, Ga., Ellis suited up for the Vols and head coach Don DeVoe from 1980-83. He was twice named the SEC Player of the Year (1982 and 1983) and was a three-time first-team All-SEC selection. As a junior in 1981-82, he led Tennessee to a 20-10 (13-5 SEC) record and the regular-season SEC Championship.
Ellis raised his scoring average every season during his career on Rocky Top. The 6-7, 205-pound forward averaged 7.1 points as a freshman in 1979-80, and that average rose to 17.7 ppg, 21.2 ppg and finally 22.6 ppg during his senior campaign in 1982-83. His 2,065 total points ranked third in program history at the conclusion of his UT career, and he currently ranks sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list.
His 724 points as a senior set a UT single-season record (has since been surpassed). However, he remains Tennessee’s all-time leader in field-goal percentage for a single season (.654 in 1981-82) and a career (.595; min. 500 attempts).
Parker, from Naperville, Ill., led Tennessee to consecutive national championships in 2007 and 2008 and ranks third on the UT career list with 2,137 points scored in only three seasons (2005-06 through 2007-08). She averaged 19.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and is the Lady Vols’ career and single-season record holder in free throws made and the career record holder for blocked shots.
Parker was a three-time All-American and All-SEC performer (2006-08) who also won SEC Player of the Year and SEC Female Athlete of the Year honors in 2007. She also won the following national awards: John R. Wooden Player of the Year (2007, 2008), Naismith Player of the Year (2008), AP Player of the Year (2008), Honda-Broderick Cup Athlete of the Year (2008), State Farm Wade Trophy (2007), and the USA Basketball Writers Player of the Year (2007, 2008). She was also the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player in the Lady Vols’ two consecutive national title seasons from 2007-08.
The following are the criteria by which former student-athletes will be eligible for the honor of jersey retirement at the University of Tennessee:
· The student-athlete must have demonstrated outstanding character, integrity, and commitment to the University of Tennessee during his/her athletic career.
· Any student-athlete under consideration must have graduated or have left the University in good academic standing, which would have made them eligible to return and compete.
· Former student-athletes are eligible for this honor five years after exhausting their eligibility. If they left school early without exhausting their eligibility, they are eligible eight years after leaving UT.
· Extenuating circumstances may be considered by the committee, and modifications of the policy may be considered under such circumstances by mutual agreement of the Faculty Athletics Representative and the Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics.
A student-athlete will be eligible for consideration if they achieve three of the five criteria listed below:
· SEC Player of the Year
· National Award (Player of the Year, Sullivan, or similar honor)
· First-Team All-American
· Career record holder in a significant category (as determined by the committee) at the UT, SEC, or national level upon completion
· National championship during tenure
There is a nominating committee that will determine when an individual will be honored with a retired jersey, and any member of the committee can bring a nomination. The composition of that committee includes the Faculty Athletics Representative, Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics, the sport administrator of the selected sport, the media relations contact for selected sport or the associate athletics director/communications (or designee), and the senior woman administrator.
The honor of jersey retirement shall be bestowed to an individual only by unanimous vote of the nominating committee. The committee shall also have the ability based on accomplishments/impact at UT (UT Personnel only) to honor non-student-athletes in a similar manner.