Haywood Harris, for nearly 50 years a steadying voice in the UT Athletics Department since Gen. Robert R. Neyland appointed him Sports Information Director in January 1961, passed away in June at the age of 80.
A Maryville native, Harris graduated from Knoxville High School (1947) and later the University of Tennessee (1951). After graduation, Harris worked for The Knoxville Journal and The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer before returning to Knoxville as the University of Tennessee alumni field secretary in 1959.
Harris served UT as Sports Information Director, Assistant Athletics Director and Associate Athletics Director of Media Relations. In 1982, Inside Sports magazine listed him as one of the top five publicists in the nation.
Harris was inducted into four Halls of Fame—College Sports Information Director’s Hall of Fame (1984), the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame (1999), Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame (2005), and the Tennessee Sports Writers Hall of Fame (2006). In 1991, he received the Arch Ward Award, the highest honor bestowed by CoSIDA, the national organization of sports information directors. Harris twice served as president of the Southeastern Conference’s publicity directors association. He also earned a Chancellor’s Citation for Extraordinary Service to the university in 1992.
After his retirement in 2000, Harris continued his employment on a part-time basis as Executive Assistant to the Athletics Director at UT and, in addition to special projects, he continued with football and basketball game management duties. Along with those responsibilities, Harris also worked on maintaining the university’s athletics archives and served as department historian.
Harris and long-time friend and associate Gus Manning co-authored two books, Six Seasons Remembered, The National Championship Years of Tennessee Football, and Once a Vol, Always a Vol. Manning was hired by Gen. Neyland in 1951, preceding Harris as UT’s sports information director before becoming the school’s athletics ticket manager.
Harris was married to the former Carolyn Jo West. They have three children and four grandchildren. His hobbies included golf and running and he took great pleasure in spending time at his Laurel Valley cabin in the Smoky Mountains.