Tebow's appearance sets a high standard for future events at Lipscomb

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 11:45pm

Philip Hutcheson figures there’s not a more appropriate analogy to describe his current state of mind.

“It’s kind of like when you have a gator by the mouth,” the Lipscomb University director of athletics said. “You don’t want to keep holding on, but you’re afraid to let go.”

Hutcheson believes that in just over a year he and his staff have gotten their hands on something that is a little harder to handle than they initially expected when they created the Don Meyer Evening of Excellence.

The second installment of the event will feature former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who will deliver the keynote address at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Allen Arena just days before the NFL draft. Earlier Saturday, his parents, Bob and Pam Tebow, will present a parenting seminar on campus.

As of Wednesday afternoon, only approximately 300 tickets of the 5,500 available for Tebow’s appearance were unsold. Thus, there were no concerns about whether or not it would be a success.

The issue for Hutcheson is the future.

“The biggest problem I have right now is that people keep asking me, ‘What are you going to do next year?’” he said. “(Tim Tebow) is so hot right now, we’re told by people close to him that he’s fielding somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 requests a week to speak to groups from Boys Scouts to arena-sized gatherings.”

The inaugural Don Meyer Evening of Excellence was staged last year and featured the event’s namesake, the legendary Lipscomb basketball coach. It was announced then that it would be an annual event designed to help raise funds as well as awareness for the university as a whole.

“It already has kind of exceeded what I thought it would be at this point,” Hutcheson said.

He said there were three things that helped attract Tebow for this year’s event.

First was a Lipscomb graduate who is a family friend of the Tebows. Second is the fact that Lipscomb is a Christian-based university with a philosophy similar to that of the former Heisman Trophy winner, who is highly public in his faith. Third was Meyer, whose recovery from a serious car accident 18 months ago was featured prominently by ESPN.

“He remembered coach Meyer’s story,” Hutcheson said.

Consequently, this year’s celebration figures to be unforgettable. It also sets a standard for the ones to come.

“When you say you’d like to try to find an athlete you hold in high regard in all areas of life, that can be a pretty shallow pool sometimes,” Hutcheson said. “We’re going to look for people from all walks of life who exemplify excellence in some form or fashion.”