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KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee President John Petersen is taking the approach of the Three Musketeers when it comes to the fortunes of Tennessee universities in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen: All for one, and one for all.

In comments to the Senate Education Committee in Nashville Wednesday as part of UT Day on the Hill, Petersen said he and University of Memphis President Shirley Raines have pledged to support one another’s teams in their upcoming games.

“We represent the state of Tennessee and we are the state of Tennessee, and our fans have a loyalty and a pride that is very positive,” said Petersen.

Petersen said the mutual support hopefully would lead to a Tennessee team in the Final Four, which would be a point of pride for the entire state.

UT and Memphis will play in back-to-back games in San Antonio this Thursday. Memphis will play Texas A&M at 7:30 p.m.; UT will play Ohio State University at 9:55 p.m.

Should both teams win, they would play each other Saturday in an Elite Eight match-up for a chance to travel to Atlanta the next weekend to play in the NCAA Final Four.

Petersen stopped short of saying the pledge of mutual support would continue should that happen.

“Of course, we’re not that generous,” said Petersen, garnering a laugh from committee members and others present.

UT Day on the Hill is an annual event bringing students and leadership to Nashville from the university’s campuses and institutes across the state.


Jay Mayfield, UT media relations (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)