Phillip Edward Fulmer

2019 East Tennessean of the Year

The East Tennessee Historical Society Board of Directors is pleased to honor a man we affectionally call Coach Fulmer as our 2019 East Tennessean of the Year. A true football legend, Phillip Fulmer’s contributions to East Tennessee go far beyond the hashmarks.

Currently Phillip Fulmer serves as Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics for The University of Tennessee. His years as a student and player at the University of Tennessee led him to a successful coaching career spanning 45 years. Phillip’s leadership roles began early. In 1971, his senior year at The University of Tennessee, he served as co-captain of the football team while starring on the offensive line. Shortly after graduation, Phillip began his coaching career at UT before moving on to coaching positions at Wichita State University and then Vanderbilt University. In 1980 he returned to Rocky Top as an assistant coach, and in 1992 was named the 20th head coach at The University of Tennessee. He was the second coach in history to earn the Eddie Robinson Coach of Distinction Trophy and has served as president of the American Football Coaches Association and received national, regional, and conference “Coach of the Year” honors. In 2001 he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and in 2008 the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame. In 2012 he was inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame and in 2017 the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame.

Phillip Fulmer’s football contributions to East Tennessee are numerous, but his philanthropic involvement in the region is just as noteworthy. His years as a mentor of student-athletes, and his contributions through motivational speaking have also made a significant impact on our East Tennessee community.

Coach Fulmer has served as the national spokesperson for The Jason Foundation, Inc., a suicide prevention and education organization. He has been engaged with the Foundation since May 1998 when he was approached by a grieving father who had experienced a loss from suicide. For 21 years he has been the co-chair of the annual Phillip Fulmer & Charlie Daniels Golf Classic raising over $3 million in donations for the Foundation. He also serves as honorary chair of the Alzheimer’s Tennessee Knoxville Walk and has been involved with the organization for many years. He sits on the Board of Trustees for the Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley and has raised over $1 million since 2001 for the organization through the Phillip Fulmer Golf Classic.

During his 17 years as University of Tennessee head football coach, today as athletic director Phillip spends a lot of time and energy mentoring student-athletes. His family approach to the athletes has allowed him to guide students both on the field and off. He pushes his student athletes to grow socially, spiritually, academically, personally, and to become contributing citizens in their communities.

Phillip is married to Vicky Morey Fulmer and has three daughters, Courtney Fulmer Peace, Brittany Fulmer Ennen, Allison Fulmer Mahan and one son Phillip Fulmer Jr. and eight grandchildren.

The East Tennessee Historical Society Board of Directors is proud to honor Phillip Edward Fulmer Sr. as the 2019 East Tennessean of the Year.