published Friday, September 28th, 2012

Kathie Lee, Hoda in search of Vols spirit

Hoda Kotb
Hoda Kotb
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

What: "The Today Show" live at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville

When: 10 a.m. Monday; audience members should arrive at 8 a.m.

Where: The lawn by Ayres Hall, UTK campus

Cost: Free

For more information: www.utk.edu/tntoday

NBC's "Today" show hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb will set up on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville on Monday morning for a dose of UT orange.

"We have everything from professors getting makeovers to student groups performing — the band, mascots, cheerleaders, all of it," said Amy Blakely, assistant director of media and internal relations at UT.

The show announced the "Kathie Lee & Hoda Go Back to College Challenge" about two weeks ago. Across the country, students tweeted to the hosts to lure the women to their campuses.

Syracuse University, Ohio State University, Brandeis University, University of South Florida, Creighton University and UT tweeted the most and were chosen as finalists. The hosts announced UT as the winner early this week, after the campus received almost 150,000 online votes.

Gifford and Kotb will broadcast live for the fourth hour of the Today show at 10 a.m.

WRCB-TV3 anchor Cindy Sexton will be in Knoxville to give local viewers live reports beginning at 6 a.m., said news director Derrall Stalvey.

"We are excited that NBC invited us to be a part of this unique event that can make the whole region proud," said Stalvey, a UT graduate. "We have lots of surprises ready for viewers on Monday."

This is the second spate of national attention UT has gotten in a week. The first one wasn't quite so positive.

The school was in the spotlight after a UT student and member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning after "butt chugging," in which an enema tube is used to pour alcohol into the rectum. The student, who since has recovered and returned to class, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.4; the legal limit in Tennessee is 0.08.

The incident received news attention across the country.

To get ready for "Today," UT staff have been busy setting up stages, running cables and working with show staff to ensure the campus is ready for the hour-long production, said Whitney Heins, media and internal relations coordinator.

"It will show people the energy of the university and it's a taste of what it's like to be a Tennessee Vol," she said. "They'll be a lot of orange."

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury joined the Times Free Press as a business reporter in January 2013, after starting with the paper as a general assignment intern in July 2012. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint Hill Times. Outside the newsroom, Shelly enjoys ...

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