KNOXVILLE—More than forty years ago, Boudleaux and Felice Bryant composed “Rocky Top,” which quickly became the theme song at University of Tennessee sporting events.
The couple’s heirs, Dane and Del Bryant, have entered into a contractual partnership with UT and have donated money for the creation of the Rocky Top Institute, which will allow students to build the Rocky Top brand and develop new products.
The Bryant family and UT officials this Saturday will announce the launch of the Rocky Top brand during the football game against the University of Georgia.
Fans will be able to purchase the first products-T-shirts and ball caps featuring the Rocky Top logo-at the UT Bookstore and Neyland Stadium. They may also order them online at https://utbookstore.org/.
“My brother and I are thrilled to be working with UT,” Dane Bryant said. “It’s been a beautiful experience. I know that our parents would love this. We’re thrilled with how UT has embraced our parents’ little ditty, ‘Rocky Top.'”
The Rocky Top Institute will be housed in UT’s Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management and directed by Professor Emeritus Nancy Rutherford.
“‘Rocky Top’ has a very special place in the hearts of UT fans,” Rutherford said. “This partnership with the Bryant family is an amazing opportunity for students to gain real-world experience in developing products and brand management-for a brand that truly resonates with them.”
Royalties from the sale of Rocky Top products will be split between the Bryant family and UT. The portion of the money that comes to the university will support the Retail Program and the Pride of the Southland Marching Band.
The band started playing “Rocky Top” in 1972.
Gary Sousa, director of the marching band, called the tune “certainly the most loved song in all of the Volunteer world.”
Proceeds from Rocky Top products will go toward band scholarships, he said.
Over the last two years, while the contract with the Bryants was being negotiated, UT students were developing a logo and planning potential products. Students will continue to work on products in the Product Development class, and those most interested can take a greater leadership role in the institute through Advanced Product Development and Directed Studies.
The institute’s board of directors includes members of the Bryant family, Sousa, Dr. Ernest Cadotte of the UT College of Business Administration, and Jed Dance of Bacon and Co., a licensed vendor for UT Products.
C O N T A C T :
Dr. Nancy Rutherford (865-974-6614, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, email@example.com)