Haywood Harris, a member of the University of Tennessee athletics department for more than half a century, died Wednesday.
Harris, 80, suffered a stroke in November and had been in failing health since. Last week, the Maryville native was recognized as one of the top 100 all-time outstanding graduates of Knoxville High School.
General Robert Neyland appointed him Sports Information Director in January 1961, and he held that post until he retired in 2000. He remained active in the university community, most recently as UT Athletics Historian. He also co-hosted “The Locker Room,” one of the country’s longest-running sports radio programs for the past 49 years.
A 1951 graduate of UT, he worked for The Knoxville Journal and The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer before he was named UT’s alumni field secretary in 1959.
Harris received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career and in 1984 was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame.
“Smart. (Haywood was) smarter than the rest of us,” John Ward, the longtime UT play-by-play announcer, said in a release from the athletics department. "But smart didn't stand in the way of Haywood's putting people and his profession first. Perhaps more times than we'll ever know, a smart suggestion from Haywood to higher-ups helped create the positive image the University of Tennessee enjoys today among people from all walks of life.
“Haywood didn't ask for credit; didn't want it. He simply did what a really smart person does – help other people.”