Sure, it’s your same old formula: silent auction, dinner, live auction, entertainment. But the presence of Jason D. Williams made Alan and me don our black tie outfits and head on over. Many folks added running shoes and orange accoutrements to their formal attire.
This event used to be a fundraiser for the Lady Vols, back when there was a separate Women’s Athletics Department. Back then, it was truly a huge affair, with silent auction items filling table after table in the Convention Center’s Cumberland Concourse and people so thick you couldn’t comfortably walk around. But ever since UT combined the women and men athletes into one department, the Salute to Excellence event has gotten smaller. One guest who has never missed the Salute to Excellence speculated that Lady Vols fans were more excited and devoted when there was a stand-alone Women’s Athletics Department.
Even so, the evening was pleasant and, I’m sure, raised a nice amount of money. We had a good time in a crowd heavy with Athletics Department officials. Hated that so many folks left before the fabulous Jason D. Williams took the stage. Here’s a look inside the festivities.
Alpha Patrick, left, with Linda and Bob DeLozier. Note the shoes!
Sharon Vance and Smokey
Melanie and Vince Staten with Alan Carmichael, admiring a special piano.
Scott and Amy Boling
From left, UT President Dr. Joe DiPietro, John Thornton and state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey
Rusty and Beverly Farrell
At first I thought it odd that Brussels sprouts were being passed as an hors d’oeuvre. Then I realized they actually were baby mozzarella balls, with grape tomatoes and fresh basil! (You have to admit they look like Brussels sprouts!)
Head volleyball coach Rob Patrick, left, with Mary and Michael Crawford
Larry and Jane Martin discuss a silent auction bid.
This was cool. A brick autographed by Coach Butch Jones.
Or, perhaps you would like to buy Lady Vols Coach Holly Warlick?
Kay Clayton, left, with Matt Kredich, the head coach of swimming and diving, and his wife, Kim
Susan Martin, left, provost and senior vice chancellor, with Margie Nichols
Ilene and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek
Carol Evans, left, and Susan Williams
Traci Smith, center, with Lady Vol basketball players Meighan Simmons, left, and Isabelle Harrison
Alan Carmichael, left, and Mike Vollmar, senior associate athletics director, who sat with us at Table 25.
Also at our table, Jon Gilbert, left, executive senior associate athletics director, and Reid Crumpton
Barbara and Coach Butch Jones
Joan Cronan, left, former UT women’s athletics director, with Sid and Jo Blalock
County Commissioner Mike Hammond, left, with Ann and Sam Furrow
The food was excellent — and plentiful!
Alan, of course, ate his three desserts in addition to mine!
And then it was time for Jason!
Some folks had a great time!
Unfortunately, many left.
But take a look at this 30-second video to see why they should have stayed!