Lady Vols have crafted culture of excellence and leadership
Over the last 50 years, women’s athletics at the University of Tennessee has been synonymous with excellence. Across the nation, sports fans of all kinds immediately recognize the Lady Vols brand and the reputation of character and achievement it carries.
That culture began in the early, pre-Title IX years of Pat Summitt’s career, when she built from the ground up a basketball program rooted in our Volunteer values of leadership and service. She set high expectations on the court and off—demanding the best from her players and, by extension, all of us.
Her legacy only grows in her absence. Since 1980, Lady Vols across UT athletics have won 72 SEC championships—including last year’s trophies for soccer and swimming and diving.
Today, every student–athlete who wears a Lady Vols uniform knows it carries with it a commitment to their team, their studies, and their community.
It is not just our exceptional student–athletes and coaches that set Lady Vols apart—it’s also the fans who embrace them. Through the years Vol Nation has rallied behind our female student–athletes by attending events, purchasing merchandise, and cheering for their success.
Recently, I attended the grand opening for Orange Mountain Designs in West Knoxville. It is the first brick-and-mortar retail store in the country dedicated exclusively to women’s college sports. That speaks to the passion for, and power of, the Lady Vols brand.
Our fans’ support for our Lady Vols continues well after their time on Rocky Top. Alumna such as WNBA MVP winners Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings—both of whom recently returned to campus—are role models for young girls and an example that with hard work and dedication, they too can accomplish their goals. Their careers and character are further proof that the Lady Vol experience is something special.
No university in country has a stronger or more meaningful identity in women’s athletics. Today, three former Lady Vols have returned to coach the programs they once led as players: women’s basketball head coach and Pat Summitt protégé Kellie Harper, former All-American and women’s tennis head coach Alison Ojeda, and women’s golf coach Diana Cantú.
This academic year, we have renamed our signature blue accent color “Summitt Blue” to celebrate the legacy of Pat Summitt and 50 years of Title IX. The color is a reminder that these women are a part of something bigger than themselves.
They are scholars, role models, researchers, and trailblazers. They are Lady Vols.