The number one party school in the country may soon have the number one academic team.
Last Saturday, Feb. 9 a group of UT students traveled to Chattanooga to represent the Big Orange at the Midsouth Sectional National Academic Quiz Tournament. These students took first by defeating other Division II schools such as Rhodes, Emory and the University of Kentucky.
The team's outstanding performance, starring team captain and top scorer, Patrick Riser, earned them an invitation to the National Intercollegiate Championships to be held at the University of North Carolina April 5 and 6. The other team members were freshman John Pope and sophomores Richard Hatcher and Diana Howard.
The game is played like the televised Scholar's Bowl, except the questions are more difficult. It is a game of quick knowledge recall in areas of science, history and literature along with fine arts, social sciences, geography, philosophy, religion and mythology.
Carol Guthrie, graduate of UT and one of the team's current coaches, began coaching the team in the mid 80s while she was in graduate school. Despite the success of the team, including a national championship in 1990-91, interest waned and it eventually disbanded due to lack of interest.
Not until this fall did the university's academic team emerge from hibernation when freshmen Patrick Riser and Pope stepped onto campus. Riser and Pope had competed together in high school, earning the state championship for Riverdale High in Murfreesboro three years in a row and winning third place at nationals their senior year.
"I guess we kind of missed it," Pope said. "We are competing against a lot of the same kids whom we competed against in high school, including the guys from the University of Michigan. We lost second place in Nationals to those guys ... we're out for revenge."
When Riser and Pope contacted Guthrie, intent on revitalizing the legacy of UT's Academic Team, she graciously accepted.
"I think the current team has a good chance to win another national championship in the next few years. Patrick is an outstanding player, and he is surrounded by a strong core of players who, if they continue to practice and work, can become a top flight team capable of competing and beating any team in the nation," Guthrie said.