KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer praised John Ward for bringing “life and feeling to our living rooms” during a tribute ceremony for the longtime Volunteers football and men’s basketball broadcaster.
Ward died June 20 in Knoxville at the age of 88. He served as the radio voice of Tennessee football and men’s basketball for over three decades before retiring.
The Wednesday night ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena featured some of Ward’s most famous calls interspersed with tributes from former colleagues, players and coaches.
Fulmer recalled being a 16-year-old who drove “to find the highest hill in Winchester, Tennessee,” for the chance to listen to Ward’s broadcasts.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam sent a letter in which he wrote that “growing up in Knoxville as a UT sports fan, it is John Ward’s voice that is the backdrop to all those memories.” Former Tennessee and NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning sent a videotaped message in which he called Ward “an incredible human being” and “one of the great Tennessee Volunteers of all time.”
Ward became Tennessee’s radio play-by-play voice for men’s basketball in 1965 and started filling the same role for football three years later. He retired after the 1998-99 school year.
He started every game by saying “It’s Football Time In Tennessee” and would say “Give Him Six” after Tennessee touchdowns.
Ward was named Tennessee sportscaster of the year 28 times. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.