Hundreds of fans filed through Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday to get autographs from the Lady Vols basketball players and honor the achievements of the round-ballers and the national champion track & field team. <p> Head track coach J.J. Clark and head basketball coach Pat Summitt thanked both the Tennessee administration for their support and the UT fans for their fervor. <p>

Two fans in particular demonstrated the depths of love for the Lady Vols. Sisters Raubyn and Donna Branton, who both live in East Tennessee, entertained the players and fans with their renditions of songs.

Each basketball player was treated to a cappella versions of pop and rap music tailored for the player. Freshmen Candace Parker and Alexis Hornbuckle were so enthralled that they continued singing long after the sisters had stopped "99 Problems," which was changed to "99 Points." Shanna Zolman particularly seemed to enjoy "She's a Zolman," sung to the tune of "He's a Soul Man."

The basketball players and coaches signed autographs for 90 minutes – assistant coach Nikki Caldwell had to leave early for a charity engagement but left her spot at the table and signed for everyone in line before leaving – and then assembled on a stage at one end of the arena for an official salute to the two Lady Vol teams.

Clark and his wife, five-time Olympian Jearl Miles-Clark, were presented with a black Mercedes SLK 350 convertible by Sam Furrow, who owns the local Mercedes dealership. The car was a gift to use for a year in honor of Clark's team winning the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship in Fayetteville, Ark., last March. Jearl Miles-Clark took the keys and got in the driver's seat to the delight of the crowd.

"One thing J.J. needs to know, you get a lot more speeding tickets," said Summitt, who was presented with her own Mercedes after winning her last national title in 1998. "This baby's going to cost you."

Summitt also announced she would host the track team at her house for a home-cooked meal and asked them to prepare a menu of their favorite foods.

It was a day set aside to not only honor the coaches and their teams but to applaud the fans for their support.

"We appreciate you being here; we appreciate you being a part of our program," said Joan Cronan, UT women's athletics director, who also acknowledged her assistants, Donna Thomas, Debby Jennings and Dara Worrell and thanked Jimmy Delaney, head of marketing, for putting together the fan day.

Tennessee President John Petersen and Chancellor Loren Crabtree also addressed the fans and lauded the coaches and players. Petersen noted that both teams had to overcome adversity all season. The basketball squad lost four players to knee injuries – including its high school national players of the year in Parker and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood – and the track team won the title – despite losing Nicole Cook during the meet to a hamstring injury.

"They're schooled to win," Petersen said.

Crabtree said the best part of his job was "you rub shoulders with those people who are truly great."

He singled out the seniors for their accomplishments – Shyra Ely, Aubrey Guastalli, Brittany Jackson and Loree Moore on the basketball team and Jessica Andrews, Cook, Antoinette Gorham, Elizabeth McCalley, Lindsey McFarland, Toyin Olupona and Kendra Rhyne on the track team.

He also singled out rising senior Zolman for her gesture last season when she wore the jersey of best friend Sidney Spencer, who went down in February with a knee injury.

"What a neat thing to do," Crabtree said. "And the jersey didn't even fit her very well."

That remark brought much laughter from the crowd and Zolman and Spencer. The players had laughed when Zolman, who's 5'10, made the switch. Spencer is 6'3, and her jersey hung down nearly to Zolman's knees.

The coaches went next during the event, and Summitt led the standing ovation given to the track team.

Clark thanked his coaches and the administration and also his players for their work ethic and dedication.

"This young team has learned how to survive," Clark said. "I just want to give my salute to you."

Clark has been a Lady Vol fan since he was a youngster. His sister, Joetta Clark, was a four-time track All-American from 1981 through 1984. (Their father is the famed Joe Lewis Clark, a high school principal in New Jersey whose life was made into a movie, "Lean on Me.")

Clark coached his sisters, Joetta and Hazel, in the 800 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2000, along with his wife. "Team Clark" finished one, two and three and went on to represent the United States in Sydney, Australia.

The Lady Vols track team is having an outstanding outdoor season and is currently ranked fourth in the country.

"I want all of you to know how incredibly proud we are of you," Summitt told the track team. "I congratulate you all on being champions."

Summitt next turned to her team, which finished with a 30-5 record, the SEC tourney title and the program's 16th Final Four appearance. The season ended with a semifinal loss to Michigan State in Indianapolis. She also thanked assistant coach Holly Warlick for staying – Warlick drew interest from several schools looking for head coaches – an announcement that drew loud applause and cheering.

Next year's team will play on a floor officially named "THE SUMMITT" in honor of Summitt holding the NCAA career wins mark with 882, an achievement noted Saturday.

"I want this team to understand how proud we are of what they accomplished this year," Summitt said to her players. "We talked about adversity. They faced adversity. They certainly did a great job of pulling together. … We developed a lot of character throughout this year, and we became great competitors."

The returning basketball players – the seniors were not in attendance Saturday, except for Guastalli – started off-season individual workouts this week. Parker and Alex Fuller spent the year on the sidelines rehabbing knee injuries, but they are on the court now. Early reviews were favorable.

"I am looking so forward to working with them in the future," Summitt said. "We want to win a championship. Our championship will be won or lost in the off-season. If they embrace what they have been shown and understand what they have to do, I really believe we'll have one of the most-exciting teams in the history of our program, because of all the great talent that we have on this stage. I want to thank you for representing us and wearing the orange.

"Obviously a lot of people said we overachieved. They said that a year ago. We don't feel that we overachieved until we cut down the nets. That's our goal for next year, but we have to be incredibly proud of how they represented us from beginning to end. I can tell you as a coach I had a lot of fun with this group. I don't know that they had as much fun with me as I had with them, but they're a great group of people. I like what's inside. We're looking forward to next year, and just thank you all for what you mean to this program and this university."

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