Athletics and Popular Extracurriculars at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Any college student will tell you that attending college is about much more than just classes and majors.

While academic, the college lifestyle is also very social and provides an opportunity for students to meet peers from diverse backgrounds with different interests. Most students will tell you that meeting classmates from other parts of the country or world is as valuable to their college experience as their time spent in the classroom. 

College athletics and student organizations provide some of the best opportunities for social involvement outside of the classroom. For new and returning University of Tennessee – Knoxville students interested in learning more about UTK sports, social organizations, and clubs on campus, check out our overview below of athletics and popular extracurriculars at the University of Tennessee. 

What sport is the University of Tennessee known for?

Although football and the men’s basketball team are popular at the University of Tennessee, the school is perhaps best known for its women’s basketball team, which has been a national contender for over three decades. 

The Lady Vols basketball team has more national titles than any other school except the University of Connecticut (UConn), having won 8 titles in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, and 2008. The team was the national runners-up in 1984, 1995, 2000, 2003, and 2004. Most of these title wins were under Pat Summitt, the winningest basketball coach in a men’s or women’s program in NCAA history. 

In addition to basketball, the University of Tennessee offers nine other intercollegiate programs for women’s athletics, including:

  1. Basketball
  2. Cross Country
  3. Golf
  4. Rowing
  5. Soccer
  6. Softball
  7. Swimming & Diving
  8. Tennis
  9. Track & Field
  10. Volleyball

Men’s intercollegiate athletics at UTK include:

  1. Baseball
  2. Basketball
  3. Cross Country
  4. Football
  5. Golf
  6. Track & Field

UTK’s athletic programs are sponsored by the NCAA and participate in the same conference, except for women’s rowing which is part of the Big-12 Conference.

Is the University of Tennessee a Division 1 school?

Yes, the University of Tennessee is a Division I school for athletics through the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and a participating member of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) for college-level football.

UTK is one of the founding members of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), which was formed in 1932 and today is one of the most competitive athletic conferences in the country. The schools represented in the Southeastern Conference include:

  1. University of Alabama
  2. University of Arkansas
  3. Auburn University
  4. University of Florida
  5. University of Georgia
  6. University of Kentucky
  7. Louisiana State University
  8. University of Mississippi
  9. Mississippi State University
  10. University of Missouri
  11. University of South Carolina
  12. University of Tennessee
  13. Texas A&M University
  14. Vanderbilt University

The SEC is divided into two divisions: UTK plays in the East Division and Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. The SEC is set to grow to 16 schools with the additions of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oklahoma, which will leave the Big 12 Conference in 2025 after being approved to join the SEC in July 2021. 

Who is the University of Tennessee’s biggest rival?

The University of Tennessee’s biggest rivals are in football with the University of Alabama, the University of Florida, and Vanderbilt University.

These are all-conference rivals since all of the schools are in the SEC. The UT Volunteers do not have any trophy games with their football rivals. However, the regular season game with the Alabama Crimson Tide is traditionally known as the Third Saturday in October based on the regular date of their annual match-up. Tennessee ended the 2022-2023 season with a 6-2 conference record, beating all three of their rivals. 

How many clubs are there at the University of Tennessee?

There are more than 600 student clubs and organizations at the University of Tennessee.

Most of these clubs are overseen by the Center for Student Engagement (CSE), which registers student organizations on campus and manages a calendar of events available for UTK students. Student groups at the University of Tennessee are organized into one of 23 categories to help students navigate all of the options available for campus involvement. The 23 categories of student organizations at UT are:

  1. Academic
  2. Advocacy
  3. Agricultural
  4. Architecture
  5. Business
  6. Campus Support
  7. Club Sports
  8. Creative & Performing Arts
  9. Engineering
  10. Environmental
  11. Health & Wellness
  12. Honorary
  13. Journalism & Communication
  14. Law School Organizations
  15. Medical
  16. Multicultural
  17. Political
  18. Professional Greek Organizations
  19. Recreation
  20. Service & Philanthropy
  21. Social Greek Organizations
  22. Special Interest
  23. Spiritual & Faith-Based

The most popular clubs at the University of Tennessee are the Campus Events Board, academic organizations, and Greek life.

The Campus Events Board (CEB) is run through the Center for Student Engagement and is in charge of planning campus-wide events throughout the school year for the entire UTK student body. This includes concerts, lecture series, comedy shows, and festivals. Academic groups align with a student’s primary and career goals to supplement a student’s coursework. For more information about Greek life, check out our past posts about fraternity life and sorority life at UT. 

Start your year off right at the University of Tennessee

Regardless of your status as a student-athlete or the organizations you find yourself in during your time at the University of Tennessee, there’s a place for everyone at The Commons. 

The Commons at Knoxville offers UT students one of the best locations for an off-campus student housing community with various buildings and unit styles. Spread across 12 different buildings in the Fort Sanders neighborhood, The Commons at Knoxville is located just a few blocks north of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus, and Cumberland Avenue. The community is within easy walking and biking distance of the center of campus and is just a few blocks from the restaurant and retail options along Cumberland. 

The Commons at Knoxville offers one, two, three, and four-bedroom apartments. For information about pricing and availability, contact The Commons at Knoxville team today at (865) 268-8255.