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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Alumni, friends and fans of the University of Tennessee soon will be able to show their support of the university every time they use a credit card.

UT President Joe Johnson said Thursday an agreement with First USA Bank of Delaware will make available eight University of Tennessee Platinum Visa cards representing UT’s campuses and their athletic programs.

The seven-year contract with First USA guarantees UT at least $2.3 million annually, Johnson said. All campuses will benefit from the proceeds, which will be used for alumni scholarships and academic programs, Johnson said.

UT decided to offer a credit card program because alumni asked for it and because it represents a new source of revenue for the university, he said.

”We have been encouraged over the years to look for alternative sources of income, in addition to what we get from the state, student fees and research grants and contracts,” Johnson said.

Applications will be mailed to alumni, staff and friends and will be available through a toll-free phone number, bank officials said. Bank representatives also will be at many UT sporting events and other activities accepting applications.

Prospective cardholders will be able to choose from cards with UT-Chattanooga, Knoxville, Martin and Memphis campus scenes or athletic cards from UT campuses with intercollegiate sports programs. Among the choices will be Vol football and Lady Vols’ basketball cards.

Hunter Wright, president of UT’s 270,000-member national alumni association, said use of the UT cards will create more alumni scholarships.

”We are delighted Dr. Johnson and the administration are directing a portion of the revenue toward the alumni scholarship program. Whether you are a graduate of Chattanooga, Martin, Memphis or Knoxville, your participation in this program will benefit students and faculty for years to come,” Wright said.

First USA, a subsidiary of BANC ONE Corp., has issued approximately 43 million cards. UT joins the universities of Nebraska, Kentucky, Florida, Oregon, Arizona and Washington as First USA clients. The company also has agreements with Notre Dame, Yale and Oregon State.

UT sought proposals from several bank and credit card companies. The UT alumni office worked with the bank to complete the agreement.