Harris is 'Distinguished American'

The East Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame announced its winners for the 2009 awards brunch. Headlining the group was the naming of longtime UT Sports Information Director, Haywood Harris, as the Distinguished American.

That award along with several others including four Amateur Football Awards to Bob Black, Rocky Goode, Mark Pemberton and Gary Rankin will be given at the annual awards brunch Saturday morning at The Foundry in Knoxville. Reservations are still being accepted by calling chapter secretary Tyler Johnson at 974-1219. Cost of the brunch which begins food service at 9:30 with a program at 10 a.m. is $30.00 per person.

Haywood Harris, who has been a steadying force in the UT Sports Information Office since General Robert R. Neyland appointed him Sports Information Director in January 1961.

A Maryville native, Harris graduated from Knoxville High School (1947) and later the University of Tennessee (1951). After graduation, Harris worked for The Knoxville Journal and The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer before returning to Knoxville as the University of Tennessee alumni field secretary in 1959.

Harris served UT as Sports Information Director, Assistant Athletics Director and Associate Athletics Director of Media Relations. In 1982, Inside Sports magazine listed him as one of the top five publicists in the nation.

Harris was inducted into the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, the Tennessee Sports Writers Hall of Fame and National Sports Information Director's Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. In 1991, he received the Arch Ward Award, the highest honor bestowed by CoSIDA, the national organization of sports information directors. Harris twice has served as president of the Southeastern Conference's publicity directors association. He earned a Chancellor's Citation for Extraordinary Service to the university in 1992.

After his retirement in 2000, Harris continued his employment on a part-time basis as Executive Assistant to the Athletics Director at UT.

During his spare time, Harris and long-time friend and associate Gus Manning have co-authored two books, Six Seasons Remembered, The National Championship Years of Tennessee Football, and Once a Vol, Always a Vol. Manning was hired by Gen. Neyland in 1951, preceding Harris as UT's sports information director before becoming the school's athletics ticket manager.

Bob Black has been a fixture in East Tennessee amateur athletics for more than 50 years. It began in his playing days at Fulton High School, where he was a football, basketball and baseball player from 1956-1960. He went on to become an all-conference, all-area and All-American football star at Carson-Newman before returning to Fulton High School as a teacher and coach in 1965. After more than 40 years at Fulton, the honors and accomplishments are too many to count. He has been placed on the school's "Wall of Fame," had the school's football field renamed in his honor, earned "Administrator of the Year" honors from the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and "Athletic Director of the Year" honors from the TSSAA in 2001. In his free time, he has umpired high school, SEC and ACC baseball and served as a member of the chain gang at UT football games. He is a member of the TSSAA Hall of Fame, the Carson Newman College Sports Hall of Fame and the Carson Newman All-Century Football Team. Black and his wife Brenda have three children, DeAngela, Rob, Kristi and Kelley, and 12 grandchildren.

Rocky Goode took his passion for the game of football and has used it to excel at one of the hardest jobs in sports for 20 years. After earning Tennessee player of the year honors at Bearden High School in 1972, he went on to play football at Tennessee. From there, he ventured into football officiating, and hasn't stopped since. He was as a high school official for 15 years before joining the Southern Conference in 1989. Seven years later, he found himself officiating Southeastern Conference games, a task he would take on for 13 seasons and continues today. He became a crew chief in 2004 and currently serves as President of the SEC Football Officials Association. He has worked numerous bowl games, kickoff classics and the 2005 SEC Championship Game. He and his wife of 32 years, Janet, have two children, Ryan and Emily and one grandson, Lincoln.

Mark Pemberton has been a high school teacher and a coach in East Tennessee for 24 years. He has spent the last 16 as a head football coach including seven at Knoxville Catholic High School. In his time at the helm at Knoxville Catholic, he has amassed a 78-11 record, won six region championships and the 2008 TSSAA Class AAA state championship. The Irish have not lost a road game since 2002 and have a 59-1 regular season record over the last six years. In his career, Pemberton has tutored four Mr. Football Award winners and 27 athletes that have gone on to play college football. He was the head coach of the East Tennessee team in the 2007 East/West All-Star Game and an assistant for the Tennessee team in the 2006 Tennessee-Kentucky All-Star Game.

Gary Rankin assumed the reins of the football program at Alcoa High School in 2006 and navigated the Tornadoes to three straight 2A state championships -- the school's third, fourth and fifth straight state titles. Alcoa's title runs were no surprise to those familiar with Rankin's coaching resume. The eight-time TSWA Coach of the Year honoree (most recently receiving the honor this past fall) has overseen 12 undefeated high school teams, 22 10-win seasons and 18 consecutive seasons of top-10 state rankings. Before his hiring at Alcoa, Rankin served as head football coach at Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro and Smith County High School in Carthage. He previously held an assistant coaching position at Warren County High School in McMinnville. The 1977 Tennessee graduate earned his Master's in Education from Tennessee Tech in 1981. Rankin and his wife, Sandra, have three children, John Tucker, Carly Addison and Thomas Zeke.

In addition, receiving the chapter's Distinguished Service Awards are Marvin "Stump" Martin, Jr. of Chattanooga, Jimmy Donald of Powell, Randy Harville of Morristown and Gleen Thompson of Crossville. The chapter also will recognize 32 area high school scholar athletes.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories