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KNOXVILLE — Professional football players, past University of Tennessee coaches, state and local politicians and an award-winning poet are helping to raise money for scholarships benefiting UT students.

The fourth annual Alex Haley Scholarship Auction and Celebrity Golf Tournament are set for Sunday, May 20, and Monday, May 21, in Knoxville.

Knoxville-born poet Nikki Giovanni, women’s athletic director Joan Cronan and former Vols Jerry Colquitt and Tee Martin are among the celebrities participating in this year’s tournament. The celebrities will partner with community members’ preregistered teams.

The Alex Haley scholarships were created in response to a state challenge to raise $3.375 million for the recruitment and retention of African American undergraduates. The state agreed to fund $450,000 for every year UT raised $675,000. The scholarships were named for Haley because of his close ties to UT.

The auction — including a Peyton Manning-autographed Indianapolis Colts jersey, a New York Knicks basketball and a crew photo of the space shuttle Discovery’s maiden flight autographed by all the astronauts — will take place at 5 p.m. on May 20, at the Knoxville Marriott Hotel. Local WNOX radio personality Hallerin Hilton Hill will preside as emcee. Tickets are $10 and available in advance or at the door.

The golf tournament, which still has a few spaces available, is open to spectators and will take place at 8:30 a.m. on May 21 at Gettysvue Polo, Golf and Country Club in West Knoxville.

The Black Millennium Focus Committee was formed in 2002 to assist with fundraising efforts and includes alumni from Tennessee and beyond. Former Tennessee football star and professional football player Stanley Morgan and his wife, Rholedia, chair the committee that began the Alex Haley Scholarship Auction and Celebrity Golf Tournament in 2004 to increase awareness for these efforts and involve a larger public.

Haley, best known for his novel “Roots,” served as an adjunct faculty member in UT’s College of Communications and Information Sciences in 1991 and donated his notes, manuscripts, videotapes and mementoes to UT’s Special Collections Library.

AT&T is a major donor of the tournament. Sponsors include UT Athletic Department, FedEx, Holrob Investment, Coca-Cola, Home Federal Bank, Eagle Distributing, Gatorade, Knoxville Marriott, Brooke Insurance and Sonny’s Bar-B-Q. Golf team sponsors include Charles Blalock & Sons, BlueCross BlueShield, Cariten Healthcare, G2 Engineering and Management, TVA, UPS, UT National Alumni Association, the Knox County Mayor’s Office, Cornerstone Foundation and St. Mary’s Foundation. Media sponsors include the News Sentinel and WBIR-TV.

For more information, contact the UT Development Office at (865) 974-2115.

Beth Gladden, UT media relations
(865-974-9008, 865-771-1284)

Frances White Hall, Hall Communications Inc.