The University of the Tennessee Volunteers, as the state's land grant university, draws the nickname of its athletic teams (Tennessee Volunteers) from the name most associated with the state.
Tennessee acquired its name "The Volunteer State" in the early days of the nineteenth century in the War of 1812. At the request of President James Madison, Gen. Andrew Jackson, later President, mustered 1500 from his home state to fight the Indians and later the British at the Battle of New Orleans.
The name became even more prominent in the Mexican War when Gov. Aaron V. Brown issued a call for 2800 men to battle Santa Ana and some 30,000 Tennesseans volunteered. The dragoon uniform (left) worn by Tennessee regulars during that conflict is still seen adorning the color guard at UT athletic events.
The term "Volunteer State," as noted through these two events, recognizes the long-standing tendency of Tennesseans to go above and beyond the call of duty when their country calls. The name "Tennessee Volunteers" is frequently shortened to "Vols" in describing Tennessee's athletic teams.
The colors Orange and White were selected by Charles Moore, a member of the first football team in 1891, and were later approved by a vote of the student body.
The colors were those of the common American daisy which grew in profusion on The Hill. Tennessee Volunteer football players did not appear in the now-famous Orange jerseys until the season-opening game in 1922. Coach M.B. Banks' Tennessee Volunteers won that game over Emory and Henry by a score of 50-0.
The school colors are utilized in Tennessee Volunteers' famous checkerboard endzones at Neyland Stadium. The unique design accompanied coach Doug Dickey’s arrival in 1964 when the Tennessee Volunteers played Boston College. The colorful and popular end zones were a part of the Tennessee Volunteers football until 1968 when the natural sod was dug out and artificial turf was put in its place. In 1989, with Dickey as athletic director, brought the trademake endzones back when workers installed the orange and white end zones and the interlocking UT at the 50-yard line in the summer of 1989. They were both completely inlaid with contrasting colored turf rather than painted turf. The Orange & White checkerboard end zones continued when the Tennessee Volunteers returned to natural grass in 1994.