The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s 2021 Homecoming celebration begins Sunday, November 7, calling all current Vols and alumni to come together and celebrate the history, traditions, and spirit of UT.
This year’s theme is Charge the Checkerboard, in honor of Neyland Stadium’s 100th anniversary. More than 30 events are planned for the campus community, alumni, and the public leading up to the Vols’ football game against the University of Georgia at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, November 13. Vol For Life Candace Parker (’08) will serve as this year’s Homecoming Parade grand marshal. See the full schedule of events.
Along with Neyland Stadium, two other campus icons—Ayres Hall and Morgan Hall—are celebrating their 100th anniversaries this year. UT’s famous checkerboard end zones are inspired by the same checkerboard pattern in the brick of the clock tower atop Ayres. The building’s clock tower was visible from field level at Neyland Stadium until the enclosure of the upper deck of the north end in 1996. In 1964, head football coach Doug Dickey introduced an orange-and-white checkerboard end zone design on Shields–Watkins Field. The distinct design has become an icon for the Vols and is the inspiration for this year’s homecoming theme.
“After last year’s Spirit Week, the campus is excited to bring back traditional Homecoming events along with some new and fun offerings for our students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” said Meghan Woodward, coordinator for the Center for Student Engagement and this year’s Homecoming Committee chair. “There is great significance in this year’s theme honoring the centennial anniversary of Neyland Stadium. Campus partners and student organizations have been working hard in preparation, and we look forward to celebrating traditions new and old.”
- Chalk Pedestrian Walkway, Sunday, November 7, 11 a.m., Johnson–Ward Pedestrian Walkway. Competition hosted by All Campus Events (ACE). Participating groups will create chalk designs to promote Homecoming week and the UT spirit.
- Banner Drop, Tuesday, November 9, 11:45 a.m., Neyland Stadium. Hosted by ACE. Participating groups will create designs for large banners that will hang from Neyland Stadium.
- Tower of Cans, Wednesday, November 10, 9 a.m., various campus locations. This spirited competition challenges participating groups to build a display with the tallest tower of cans. Canned goods will be dropped off at the UT Recycling Center and donated to Big Orange Pantry, UT’s campus food pantry, which provides emergency food and assistance with basic needs for students, faculty, and staff.
- Homecoming Bonfire, Thursday, November 11, 10 p.m., Fiji Island. Hosted by the Student Government Association. Campus community members and alumni are welcome to grab a slice of pizza and a s’more and enjoy a night on Rocky Top with fellow Volunteers. Fireworks will conclude the celebration.
- 21st Annual Southeastern Stomp Fest, Friday, November 12, 7 p.m., Student Union Auditorium. A signature Homecoming event, Stomp Fest is an opportunity for the student body, alumni, and the Knoxville community to enjoy high-energy stepping performances by National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities and sororities.
- Alumni Tailgate, Saturday, November 13, beginning three hours before kickoff, Student Union Pilot Company Ballroom. Attendees can enjoy food and beverages, music, special games for little Vols, and remarks from VFL Candace Parker. The event is $25 per person for adults and free for children under 17. See the full schedule of events open to alumni.
Parade and Little Vol Walk
The annual Homecoming parade will take place at 4 p.m. on Friday, November 12. The parade starts at on Volunteer Boulevard across from the LaPorte Track and Field Stadium. The procession will head north, passing Circle Park and down Peyton Manning Pass, finally turning right onto Phillip Fulmer Way past Thompson-Boling Arena. View the parade map.
The parade brings together UT and the city of Knoxville, showcasing student organizations and community floats. This year’s grand marshal is Candace Parker (’08), former Lady Vol and star forward for the 2021 WNBA Championship team, the Chicago Sky. Children ages 10 and under are invited to participate in the parade’s Little Vol Walk, where they can walk on foot or ride along in wagons or strollers. Advance registration is encouraged.
National Pan-Hellenic Council Monuments Dedication
As part of the Homecoming celebrations, UT will host the unveiling of nine new monuments dedicated to the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to the dedication ceremony on Johnson–Ward Pedestrian Walkway Saturday, November 13, three hours before kickoff. The ceremony will feature remarks from Chancellor Donde Plowman, Vice Chancellor for Student Life Frank Cuevas, NPHC President Abigail Saulsberry, and other campus administrators.
NPHC, or the Divine 9, is composed of nine historically African American sororities and fraternities. The monuments are a symbol of the university’s commitment to celebrating diversity and inclusion. The university broke ground on the project in 2019, and construction was completed this past summer.
Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993, email@example.com)