Smokey named to Capital One All-America team

Capital One today announced that University of Tennessee's Smokey was selected to the first-ever Capital One All-America Mascot Team. Smokey will be featured in an upcoming television advertising campaign and compete against the other 11 mascots for the title of Capital One National Mascot of the Year to be announced during the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2003.

Just for being selected to the All-America Mascot Team, Smokey has earned $5,000 for the mascot program at the University of Tennessee. The overall winner of the competition earns their school an additional $5,000.

"Each year the best college football players are named to All-America teams, and for the first time ever, college mascots will have their own team," said Pam Girardo, manager, consumer public relations at Capital One. "Capital One thinks it is time to give these true heroes the recognition they deserve."
Named to the inaugural mascot team are:

Albert - University of Florida Big Al - University of Alabama Big Red - Western Kentucky University The Bird - U.S. Air Force Academy Buzz - Georgia Tech Monte - University of Montana Nittany Lion - Penn State Otto the Orange - Syracuse University Sebastian the Ibis - University of Miami Seymour - Southern Mississippi University Smokey - University of Tennessee Victor E. Bull - University at Buffalo

Starting today, these 12 feathered, furry and lovable creatures will compete for the title of Capital One National Mascot of the Year. Fans across the country now can vote for their favorite mascot through real-time, online polling at . The National Mascot of the Year will be announced during the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2003.

"Mascots have a passion and an energy that keeps thousands of college football fans screaming and yelling and coming back each week for great football," said Girardo. "What better way is there to recognize these unsung heroes than to bring together the best of the best and then have the fans select online the National Mascot of the Year."

"We are so proud of Smokey being selected to the Capital One All-America Mascot Team," said UT Spirit Coordinator Joy Postell. "For Smokey to have been selected is an honor and a privilege and it is something he has earned through his devotion to the University and its athletic teams as well as his commitment to the state of Tennessee."

The Capital One All-America Mascot Team was opened to all NCAA Division IA & IAA school mascots representing football programs. Nomination kits, which were mailed to the Division IA & IAA athletic departments in late August, were due back on Sept. 18, 2002. A panel of judges, made up of representatives from ESPN, Capital One and the mascot community, selected and notified the 12 finalists on Sept. 21. Judging criteria included fan interaction, demonstration of good sportsmanship and community service involvement. Each of the 12 mascots will receive $5,000, payable to its school's athletic department, for use in scholarship and funding of the mascot program. The National Mascot of the Year winner will receive an additional $5,000 (total of $10,000).

Smokey, a blue-ticked coonhound, is a two-time Universal Cheer Association national champion, having won the title in both 2000 and 2001, while finishing as a runner-up in both 1999 and 2002. Aside from his game day duties Smokey has been from Graceland to Bristol Motor Speedway, to Little League opening ceremonies to civic club celebrations and he has made visits to the local hospitals. Smokey has also worked with the Race for the Cure and the annual United Way fundraising events as well as working with the D.A.R.E. projects. Many have seen Smokey in the Christmas parades from Knoxville to the Smokey Mountains. Smokey has also made appearances at local concerts, attended Nashville Predators (NHL) hockey games and has appeared for corporate events, parties, company picnics, promotions and private parties. A native breed to Tennessee, he is one of the most widely recognized mascots in the country, and is by far the most popular mascot in the state of Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee mascot program is funded through the university's athletics departments. Currently students can receive full and partial scholarships based on their abilities and the availabilities of department funds. A full scholarship includes in-state tuition and books for a year. A partial scholarship is for books only.

Capital One Financial Corporation ( ) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One FSB, offer consumer-lending products. Capital One's subsidiaries collectively had 48.6 million accounts and $53.2 billion in managed loans outstanding as of June 30, 2002. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Falls Church, Va., is one of the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world. Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 500 index. Capital One is proud to continue the college football bowl tradition that began in Orlando 57 years ago by sponsoring the Capital One Bowl, which will again feature teams from the Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences on Jan. 1, 2003.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories