To deliver the keynote address in a fundraiser hosted by the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club, UT football’s first-year leader will take center stage in Jim Smiddy Arena at Bradley Central High School.
Jones is expected to kick off his evening at 7 with a 30-minute press conference at the arena, and will then move on to the awaiting crowd of Vols enthusiasts at about 7:30. His presentation, which will include time for questions from audience members, will last about an hour.
The evening will include a series of presentations and entertainment, according to Pat Fuller, Sunrise Rotary president, and Cheryl Dunson, who coordinates the organization’s public information.
Tickets for the event will be $25 and can be purchased from any Sunrise Rotarian or through EventBrite which can be accessed on the civic club’s website at www.bradleysunriserotary.com.
This will be the Tennessee coach’s first visit to Cleveland.
“We’re extremely excited to be the first organization in Cleveland to bring the new coach to town,” Fuller said. “Our goal is to create an atmosphere for all ages of fans who want to come and express their support for Coach Jones and a new era of football at UT.”
Dunson said the evening’s program, scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m., is still being confirmed. Two parts of the evening will include presentations by Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis who will designate June 7 as Butch Jones Day in the county; and by the Bradley County Trustee’s Office which will declare Jones an honorary citizen of Bradley County.
Because the event is also a fundraiser for Sunrise Rotary’s various charitable causes, as well as a meet-and-greet for attendees, Dunson said organizers hope to sell anywhere from 500 to 1,000 tickets. The arena will easily accommodate this size of crowd.
“We’re in the process of lining up some local entertainment,” Dunson said. “It’s all in the planning stages.”
But this much is confirmed: The faithful of Vols Nation who call Cleveland and Bradley County their home will get their first opportunity to hear the Tennessee coach’s vision for the future and how he expects to get there.
Fuller encouraged local residents to attend the event as a show of support for the new coach. She also pointed to the civic side of the night; that is, the Sunrise Rotary charities that benefit from the proceeds of the group’s fundraisers.
According to Dunson, the local Rotary affiliate supports local and global causes including Habitat for Humanity, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army and Bradley Sunrise Rotary’s Angel Flight initiative. Globally, the local group recently sponsored the installation of a clean water system in El Negrito, Honduras, and has been a supporter of the Mary Diana Samuel Orphanage for Girls in India.
“I’m looking forward to June 7 being a Big Orange Night for fans from around the area,” Fuller said. “I want everyone to come out and to encourage, and support, Coach Jones because UT is where he chose to begin his next coaching job.”
Jones was hired Dec. 7, 2012, by UT and became the university’s 24th head football coach. He owns a 50-27 record (.649) in six seasons as a head coach. Prior to joining Tennessee football, Jones coached the University of Cincinnati where he finished with a 23-14 record in three seasons with the Bearcats.
Jones also was the head coach for three years at Central Michigan and compiled a 27-13 record. He has won at least eight games in five of his six years as a head coach, including three seasons of nine-plus wins in the last four years. He led Cincinnati to a Top 25 final national ranking in 2011.
In filling the Tennessee head coach vacancy, created by the departure of Derek Dooley after three seasons, Jones said he is familiar with the legacy of Vols football and the expectation of the school and its fans.
“I understand the values, traditions and level of expectations that come with this position, and I look forward to being a part of the Vol Nation,” he said on his first day on the job.
Jones is the latest in a series of nationally recognized faces who have come to Cleveland on behalf of Sunrise Rotary fundraising. Others have included college football coaching legend Vince Dooley and his wife, Barbara; Derek Dooley, former UT coach; and Collins Tuohy, the real-life sister of Michael Oher, an offensive tackle playing for the Baltimore Ravens whose life was featured in the Hollywood film, “The Blind Side.”
For more information about the June 7 event or to purchase tickets, Vols Nation enthusiasts can also contact Fuller at 423-244-1000. Tickets can be purchased as well at the Orange Blossom Boutique in the Stuart Park Plaza or at the main branch of Southern Heritage Bank on Keith Street.
COMING SOON: Even after Jones’ visit in early June, another recognized name is coming to Cleveland. Sunrise Rotary is already planning its annual fall gala. The fundraiser is set for Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Museum Center at Five Points. Guest speaker will be Bob Eubanks, legendary TV game show host whose primary notoriety came on “The Newlywed Game.”