Tennessee will retire jerseys for Dale Ellis, Candace Parker, Monica Abbott

 Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott reacts as she registers the final strike out of the game as Tennessee defeats Northwestern 3-0 in an NCAA Women's College World Series softball championship game in Oklahoma City, Sunday June 3, 2007. Tennessee won 3-0. (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott reacts as she registers the final strike out of the game as Tennessee defeats Northwestern 3-0 in an NCAA Women's College World Series softball championship game in Oklahoma City, Sunday June 3, 2007. Tennessee won 3-0. (AP Photo)

In this March 31, 2008 file photo, Tennessee's Candace Parker smiles as she takes questions from reporters during a news conference in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Photo by Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

In this March 31, 2008 file photo, Tennessee's Candace Parker smiles as she takes questions from reporters during a news conference in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

 Dale Ellis, UT basketball player, 1980.

Photo by KNS Archive

Dale Ellis, UT basketball player, 1980.

Tennessee is retiring the jerseys of three Vols legends in three sports, part of a revamped recognition process that could open the door for other former players to receive a similar honor.

Men’s basketball player Dale Ellis (No. 14), women’s basketball player Candace Parker (No. 3) and softball pitching ace Monica Abbott (No. 7) will be recognized.

Abbott, who shattered nearly every Division I pitching record in her four-year career, will be honored before the UT softball game against Texas A&M on March 23 at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.

Ellis, a two-time SEC player of the year in the early 1980s, and Parker, the leader of the Lady Vols’ back-to-back national title teams in 2007 and 2008, will be recognized before a home game in the 2013-14 season.

UT laid out detailed criteria for the jersey-retirement nominating and selection process on Thursday, emphasizing character, integrity and college-based accomplishments.

To be eligible, former players must have either earned a degree from UT or left school in good academic standing. Graduates can be nominated five years after their eligibility is complete. Players who leave before their eligibility is complete must wait eight years before receiving a nomination.

UT said candidates “must have demonstrated outstanding character, integrity, and commitment to the University of Tennessee during his/her athletic career.”

Additionally, a nominee has to meet three of five criteria:

*** SEC player of the year

*** National award (player of the year or similar honor)

*** First-team All-American

*** Career record holder in a significant category (as defined by the committee) at UT, SEC or the national level.

*** Part of a national championship team during his or her tenure.

Nominees from each sports will be evaluated by a committee comprised of UT’s athletic director, faculty athletics representative, the sport’s administrator, the media relations representative for the sport and the senior women’s administrator.

The committee must be unanimous in its decision to retire to a jersey.

UT also said the committee could also honor non-student athletes in a similar manner “based on accomplishments/impact” at Tennessee.

Tennessee announced last September that it was retiring the jersey of Johnny Majors, who was an All-American running back and Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1956. Majors, who also coached the Vols from 1977-92, was the eighth player to have his jersey retired.

UT will now refer to honored players as having retired jerseys, rather than retired “numbers,” allowing the numbers to remain available for current players.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee athletics. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

No. 14 Dale Ellis

An SEC player of the year in 1982 and 1983, Ellis helped lead the Vols to a regular-season conference title as a junior in 1981-1982.

A native of Marietta, Ga., he played four seasons for Don DeVoe, returning during breaks in his NBA career to complete his degree in sociology.

Ellis will be the fourth men’s basketball player with a retired jersey, joining Bernard King (No. 53), Ernie Grunfield (No. 22) and Allan Houston (No. 20).

“Dale Ellis represents everything that’s great about being a Tennessee Volunteer,” current UT coach Cuonzo Martin said. “One of the most impressive things about Dale’s career on the basketball court is the fact that he was an All-American in college when there was no 3-point line, and then he went on to the NBA and developed into one of the greatest 3-point shooters in the history of the league.”

Ellis scored 2,065 points in his career, sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list, and he remains Tennessee’s all-time leader in single-season and career field-goal percentage.

Ellis played 19 seasons in the NBA for six teams, and was the first player in the history of the league to make 1,000 3-point shots.

Ellis, 52, lives in Marietta and is president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Basketball Retired Players Association.

No. 3 Candace Parker

Parker was the leader of Tennessee’s back-to-back national championships in 2007 and 2008 averaging 19.4 points and 8.8 rebounds during an incredible three-year career in which she was one of the nation’s most celebrated female athletes.

She remains UT’s career and single-season leader for free throws made and blocked shots, and her 2,137 career points are third-best in school history.

She was a three-time All-American and won multiple national awards in 2007 and 2008, including the John R. Wooden Player of the Year award.

The native of Naperville, Ill., plays for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA and the Euroleague’s Ekaterinburg club in Russia during the offseason.

No. 7 Monica Abbott

One of the greatest pitchers in NCAA softball history, Abbott won 189 games and registered a 0.79 ERA in a four-year career at Tennessee from 2004-2007. She registered 112 shutouts, 2,440 strikeouts, 23 no-hitters, six perfect games and had 125 games with 10 or more strikeouts.

She holds the NCAA record for wins, shutouts, strikeouts, starts and innings pitched, and led all NCAA Division I softball players in wins in each of her four seasons.

“Monica Abbott is one of a kind,” UT co-head coach Ralph Weekly said in a release. “She is the type of player and pitcher that comes along once every 15 years. She was instrumental in putting Tennessee on the map and establishing us as a credible, strong softball program.”

A native of Salinas, Calif., Abbott was a four-time All-American and All-SEC selection, a three-time SEC pitcher of the year winner and won three national awards in 2007. She led the Vols to three consecutive College World Series appearances from 2005-2007.

Abbott was a member of the United States’ silver-medal winning Olympic team in 2008 and currently pitches in the Japan Pro League.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee athletics. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 33

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

VictorKruger writes:

I'm really happy for Dale Ellis, my all-time favorite Vol basketballer. It was shocking seeing him become such a great 3-point shooter in the NBA after playing inside during his entire UT career. He had such a quick release and touch around the basket. I'll never forget his duels against Dominique Wilkins and UGA. I thought Ellis deserved the honor ahead of Allan Houston, but that's probably unfair and due to the coach UT hired to get Allan :>).

wigmeister writes:

About time on all three!

voloffaith writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Now that was real classy...considering the source and previous posts no surprise. Hope someone has the courage to see what ewe were trying to do and remove this pitiful post.

volaholic45 writes:

three terrific choices -well deserving all

1vavolfan writes:

Very pleasant childhood memories of Dale Ellis. I got his autograph at the 82' Orange and White game and felt like I had met Elvis. Well deserved, just more to look forward to next year.

SummittsCourt writes:

All three well deserved honors. Congrats and I'm glad UT is taking some steps to honor those players that excelled on and off the field/court.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow! Why is there always a but wipe making stupid comments that are not funny or appropriate.

rb4346 writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude you are something else. One of these days you will maybe post something that shows you really are not an idiot.

rb4346 writes:

Met Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman in Oklahoma City at WCWS and they were two classy ladies. Monica congrats to you, a well deserved honor for you and you are a true VFL.

claiborneh writes:

Something I have always been curious about: if a program continues retiring numbers, don't you run out of numbers, and don't you hurt yourself in recruiting when a blue chip recruit can't get his number because it is retired?
Retired numbers are turning into Holidays-something new every week until it is tiring

claiborneh writes:

I think we should retire the term "VFL" in honor of Jay Graham and Butch "be here forever" Jones

claiborneh writes:

This is at least better than naming street signs. You have one street named after someone with felony charges (Holdsclaw) and another after an assistant coach who turned us down Tee Martin)and was not even a key figure as much as Al Wilson. How do you make this asinine nonsense up? Fulmer has a street; he got fired. We look like over zealous morons. How about Candace Not Parker Lane ( or you will get ticketed by Barney Fife the ticket boy and have your transcript held.)

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to claiborneh:

Something I have always been curious about: if a program continues retiring numbers, don't you run out of numbers, and don't you hurt yourself in recruiting when a blue chip recruit can't get his number because it is retired?
Retired numbers are turning into Holidays-something new every week until it is tiring

Did you read the criteria? it will only be for a few select people.

I think it will help recruiting knowing you could get your own number retired one day. I don't think kids today are hung up on numbers.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to claiborneh:

This is at least better than naming street signs. You have one street named after someone with felony charges (Holdsclaw) and another after an assistant coach who turned us down Tee Martin)and was not even a key figure as much as Al Wilson. How do you make this asinine nonsense up? Fulmer has a street; he got fired. We look like over zealous morons. How about Candace Not Parker Lane ( or you will get ticketed by Barney Fife the ticket boy and have your transcript held.)

Street names and retired numbers are honors for what these coaches and athletes did while at UT, not afterwards.

If that was the case, then you would have to vacate several members of the players from the NFL, MLB, and NBA Hall of fames.

creekroad writes:

in response to claiborneh:

Something I have always been curious about: if a program continues retiring numbers, don't you run out of numbers, and don't you hurt yourself in recruiting when a blue chip recruit can't get his number because it is retired?
Retired numbers are turning into Holidays-something new every week until it is tiring

They retire the jersey, not the number....read the article

bkgunter writes:

Can't believe it took this long for Dale Ellis. He was one of the best players ever in the SEC. His ability in the low post---with a willowy body by today's standards--was incredible. And as Coach Martin points out, he completely remade himself into a perimeter player in the NBA and became an amazing three point shooter. The place shook when Ellis was doing his thing.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Dale Ellis doesn't get the accolades he deserves..Finally UT is recognizing what a great talent he truly was..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UT isn't the only program to have athletes with off the court/field issues..Give it a rest.

PennVol writes:

I was a freshman at King College in Bristol and our long time basketball coach Al Nida invited Ellis to come to basketball camp at King. Nida was a stickler for fundamentals so he told us he wanted to see if Ellis had good shooting form. As you all know, Ellis kind of shot the ball from his forehead instead of over his head like Nida liked to see.

So Ellis strolls into the gym, picks up a ball and nails 4 straight shots from above the key. Nida turns to us and says "Yeah, it looks pretty good."

No one could stop King or Ellis. Grunfeld, Lofton and Houston were more steaky.

My top 5 Vols:

1. King
2. Ellis
3. Grunfeld
4. Lofton
5. Houston

hikerdude writes:

Ellis was one smooth player. A real joy to watch. He should have received this honor years ago.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to PennVol:

I was a freshman at King College in Bristol and our long time basketball coach Al Nida invited Ellis to come to basketball camp at King. Nida was a stickler for fundamentals so he told us he wanted to see if Ellis had good shooting form. As you all know, Ellis kind of shot the ball from his forehead instead of over his head like Nida liked to see.

So Ellis strolls into the gym, picks up a ball and nails 4 straight shots from above the key. Nida turns to us and says "Yeah, it looks pretty good."

No one could stop King or Ellis. Grunfeld, Lofton and Houston were more steaky.

My top 5 Vols:

1. King
2. Ellis
3. Grunfeld
4. Lofton
5. Houston

I agree at UT, but Ellis may have been a better NBA player than any of them..

govols26 writes:

Personally think Chris Lofton should be nominated the first day he is eligible. They want to stress integrity and character? I doubt a better example of the two have come to UT that don't already have their numbers hanging. Oh and he wasn't too shabby of a shooter either...

Brewii writes:

I'm so glad for Dale Ellis to be recognized this way. I started watching UT basketball at the same time he started playing and he has been one of my all time favorites. I always felt that he should be the next player honored once that started the process a few years ago.

claiborneh writes:

in response to creekroad:

They retire the jersey, not the number....read the article

I did read article. Read my statement. I was asking about programs,not Tennessee,who still retire numbers. I think retiring jerseys makes sense and is smarter.

Wayfarer writes:

Why haven't we honored Ron Widby?

1967 Helms Athletic Foundation first team All-America ... Earned honorable mention All-America honors following his sophomore season ... Also earned first team All-America honors from The Sporting News in 1966 as a punter for the Vols’ football team ... Two-time (1966 and 1967) first team All- Southeastern Conference selection ... Named the 1967 SEC Player of the Year by the UPI and Associated Press ... Averaged 22.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in leading the Vols to a 21-7 overall record and the 1966-67 SEC championship ... Averaged 18.1 points per game during his career ... Finished his career second on UT’s scoring list with 1,432 career points ... His 50 points against LSU on March 4, 1967, stood as the school record for more than 20 years... Named the SEC Sophomore of the Year in 1965 ... A four-sport letterman who was also a standout baseball player and a scratch golfer ... Drafted in the 12th round of the 1967 NBA Draft by Chicago ... Played one season with the New Orleans Buccaneers of the ABA ... Also a fourth round draft pick of the NFL’s New Orleans franchise ... Played six seasons of professional football with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers ... A 1971 Pro Bowl selection, he holds the Cowboy record with an 84-yard punt against the Saints in 1969.

VictorKruger writes:

in response to Wayfarer:

Why haven't we honored Ron Widby?

1967 Helms Athletic Foundation first team All-America ... Earned honorable mention All-America honors following his sophomore season ... Also earned first team All-America honors from The Sporting News in 1966 as a punter for the Vols’ football team ... Two-time (1966 and 1967) first team All- Southeastern Conference selection ... Named the 1967 SEC Player of the Year by the UPI and Associated Press ... Averaged 22.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in leading the Vols to a 21-7 overall record and the 1966-67 SEC championship ... Averaged 18.1 points per game during his career ... Finished his career second on UT’s scoring list with 1,432 career points ... His 50 points against LSU on March 4, 1967, stood as the school record for more than 20 years... Named the SEC Sophomore of the Year in 1965 ... A four-sport letterman who was also a standout baseball player and a scratch golfer ... Drafted in the 12th round of the 1967 NBA Draft by Chicago ... Played one season with the New Orleans Buccaneers of the ABA ... Also a fourth round draft pick of the NFL’s New Orleans franchise ... Played six seasons of professional football with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers ... A 1971 Pro Bowl selection, he holds the Cowboy record with an 84-yard punt against the Saints in 1969.

Wayfarer, I was wondering that myself. Widby was before my time, so I never saw him play. Nonetheless, you'd hope that the selection committee is evenly considering ALL former Vols, not just the ones they've seen with their own eyes.

PS Lofton should be next after Widby!

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

All three very well-deserving.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VictorKruger:

I'm really happy for Dale Ellis, my all-time favorite Vol basketballer. It was shocking seeing him become such a great 3-point shooter in the NBA after playing inside during his entire UT career. He had such a quick release and touch around the basket. I'll never forget his duels against Dominique Wilkins and UGA. I thought Ellis deserved the honor ahead of Allan Houston, but that's probably unfair and due to the coach UT hired to get Allan :>).

I too loved Dale as a player. I have sometimes argued that he had the most all-around skills of any Vol basketball player, but that turns out to be something of a minority view on here. However, the only reason I might gripe about Alan Houston being honored before Ellis is that Ellis finished his career earlier than Houston. Houston was a completely worthy honoree as the Vols' all-time leading scorer and an All-American on a lousy team. Sure, he took a lot of shots, but he also got all the other team's defensive attention. No fault of his that his Dad wasn't a better recruiter or coach.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to rb4346:

Dude you are something else. One of these days you will maybe post something that shows you really are not an idiot.

Not much chance of that. Everything I have ever seen from him makes you wanna go "Whaaaat...?"

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I agree at UT, but Ellis may have been a better NBA player than any of them..

Well, BB, you know I respect your opinion and one can argue these things endlessly, which is why stories like this are so interesting, but I would say King was the better pro player. He was just as unstoppable from down low to mid-range in the NBA as he was in college. Ellis was almost exclusively a perimeter player in the pros and thus simply could not draw as much defensive attention as King did. If King hadn't had several bad knee injuries and hadn't struggled with alcoholism, he would have been one of the great NBA players of all time. As it was, I'll bet he made the All-Star team more times than Dale did. I don't think Ellis ever led the NBA in scoring as King did at least one year.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VictorKruger:

Wayfarer, I was wondering that myself. Widby was before my time, so I never saw him play. Nonetheless, you'd hope that the selection committee is evenly considering ALL former Vols, not just the ones they've seen with their own eyes.

PS Lofton should be next after Widby!

I strongly agree with Wayfarer. I played against Widby in HS and was at UT when he was. He was undoubtedly one of the two or three best all-around athletes from K'ville ever and a clutch performer on the court. He could have been a world-class baseball player or golfer if he had pursued those sports full-time. As a basketball player, he could still be a star today. Well, maybe not TODAY, since he IS in his mid- to late-60s, but you know what I mean....

formerhoopvol writes:

not only was Dale one of the top 2-3 ever to wear the Orange, but he was a great guy off the court. anyone who knew, or played, with Dale will tell you that he is one of the best guys they ever met. its a joke they retired Houston's jersey before Dale's!

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