If you're a University of Tennessee sports fanatic who just can't get enough about the Vols, the News Sentinel has what you need.
The newspaper is expanding its GoVolsXtra brand by partnering with digital sports network 247Sports to launch a new subscription-based website called GVX247.com, which makes its debut Thursday.
It's the perfect site for fans who want more in-depth recruiting news and expert discussion about UT football and men's basketball.
"We experimented with making GoVolsXtra a subscription site a few years ago, and we decided we wanted to provide free access to our core Vols coverage," News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy said. "That won't change. GoVolsXtra.com will continue to have all of the same news and commentary it has now.
"But the GVX247 partnership allows us to hire more sportswriters and join a national network to bring Tennessee's most intense fans even more information."
247Sports is the brainchild of Shannon Terry and Bobby Burton. The two previously created the Rivals.com sports network, which they sold to Yahoo! in 2007 for $98 million. Now they are building a new national sports network, and they wanted the GoVolsXtra brand to be part of it.
"The Knoxville News Sentinel is a name that is synonymous with coverage of University of Tennessee athletics," said Burton, president of 247Sports. "Combine that with our network of affinity sites, our expertise in the recruiting space and our technology and social-media offerings, and we think we've formed a great team to cover the Vols."
Two sportswriters with previous experience covering the Vols have been hired by 247Sports. Wes Rucker has covered the Vols for eight of the past 10 years, most recently as the UT beat writer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and Ryan Callahan has covered the Vols for six years, most recently for the Maryville Daily Times.
Rucker's main duties will be team coverage, while Callahan will focus on recruiting. Online, they will write exclusively for GVX247.com. But their coverage also will be available in print in the News Sentinel.
"As always, the Knoxville News Sentinel is committed to bringing the best local coverage of University of Tennessee sports to our customers," News Sentinel Publisher Patrick Birmingham said. "This new partnership with 247Sports gives us exclusive, first-hand information and gives our serious Vol fans an opportunity to interact with the experts and be the first to get the scoop on UT sports or other teams of interest as well."
Subscriptions to www.GVX247.com will be $9.95 per month, or $107.40 per year (a 10 percent savings on the monthly subscription).
The site, which offers a seven-day free trial, will include an interactive message board that will allow fans to converse with the sportswriters about UT's teams and recruiting. The site is also integrated with social media services such as Facebook and Twitter.
The News Sentinel is the second newspaper to partner with 247Sports, which is based in Brentwood, Tenn. The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman recently partnered with 247Sports for extensive coverage of University of Texas athletics.
"Forming a partnership like this one with the News Sentinel is another big piece to the puzzle we're trying to build," said Terry, CEO and chairman of 247Sports. "We're putting ourselves into position to provide fans a one-stop shop for their favorite teams."
Dave Link is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.