History of the Tigers
The Tennessee State Tigers are among the most storied college sports teams. With a long and proud history of over 100 years, they have been a powerhouse in NCAA Division I athletics for decades. From their early days as an independent program to their current status as members of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Tigers have consistently achieved success on and off the field. Here are some of Tennessee State’s most significant moments throughout its rich history.
Tennessee State first joined NCAA Division I athletics during World War II when it became part of what was then known as The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). During this period, they won four consecutive SIAA football championships from 1945 to 1948 under legendary coach Jules Voorhees Jr., who led them to three straight NAIB basketball titles between 1947 and 1949. In 1959, TSU moved up to Division 1AA (now FCS), where they earned 5 conference titles before joining what is now known as The Ohio Valley Conference in 1986, where they continue to play today with great success—including 4 more conference championship wins since then!
Throughout its long existence, Tennessee State has produced numerous All-Americans across multiple sports, including NFL Hall Of Fame inductee Richard Dent who played defensive end for them from 1979-1982; NBA All-Star Carl “Big Daddy” Dandridge, who played center/forward from 1956–1960; and WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings whose career began at TSU in 1997 after transferring there following two seasons at University Of Tennesse Knoxville.
As you can see, the legacy left by generations worth of Tiger athletes speaks volumes about both their dedication & commitment to excellence. This continues even today through recruits coming out every year ready to take home another victory title or trophy!
College Sports Established
Tennessee State University
1986 - Present / NCAA Division I
1986 - Present / Ohio Valley Conference
Tigers - The Tennessee State Tigers have been a beloved college football team for decades, and their nickname has become synonymous with success. But where did the name come from? Let's take a look at the origins of this iconic NCAA moniker!
It all began in 1909 when John McLemore became president of what was then known as the Tennessee A&I Normal School. He wanted to give his students an identity that would make them stand out among other schools, so he created "Tigers" as their mascot and nickname. This idea quickly caught on among students and alumni, who have embraced it wholeheartedly ever since.
The name also had special significance to McLemore himself; he was inspired by General Robert E Lee’s famous quote, “It is well that war is so terrible – lest we should grow too fond of it,” which included references to tigers in its description: “as fierce as tigers." Thus, this new mascot provided an identity for his school and embodied qualities such as strength and courage- two traits every student could strive towards achieving!
Today, over 100 years after being adopted by President McLemore, the Tennessee State Tigers remain one of the most recognizable college football teams in history - thanks mainly to their unique origin story. Whether you're cheering them on or just learning about their past, there's no denying that fans across America will never forget these hardworking athletes fondly!
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