KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Gus Manning, a foundational University of Tennessee athletics administrator who served the school for nearly 50 years and attended over 600 consecutive football games, has died. He was 99.

Tennessee Athletics confirmed that Manning, the last remaining administrative link with direct ties to Gen. Robert R. Neyland, died Sunday in his hometown of Knoxville.

A graduate of Rule High School, Manning served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II before graduating from the University of Tennessee in 1950. Neyland hired him to be Tennessee’s sports information director one year later.

Manning was a fixture in the athletics department until his retirement in 2000. He served in a variety of roles from Business Manager to Senior Associate Athletic Director, working with eight athletics director and 11 football coaches.

He maintained an office in Thompson-Boling Arena until 2017 and held the title of Consultant Athletics Director until his passing.

“This is a tremendous loss. We’ve lost a major piece of Tennessee history. Gus Manning is an icon. His personality and humor made him a pleasure to be around. And his historical knowledge about all that makes Tennessee Athletics special was second-to-none. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Former Tennessee football coach and administrator Phillip Fulmer

Manning attended 608 consecutive Tennessee football games from 1951 through 2003 until an accident while en route to see Tennessee play at Kentucky caused him to return to Knoxville and miss the victory.

His streak of home attendance spanned even longer. The streak began in 1946, 16 years before the stadium bore the name of his longtime boss, Neyland. He attended 455 consecutive home games through 2017.

He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. Gate 16 at Neyland Stadium was renamed the Gus Manning Gate in 2015 as part of a $3 million donation to the University by Peyton Manning.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Gus’s son, Sammy, and the entire family. I was honored to call Gus Manning my friend. No one has served the University of Tennessee better than Gus. He was the ultimate Volunteer, and he will be missed dearly. What a life! May he rest in peace.”

Peyton Manning

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U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett recognized his legendary career on the floor of Congress in 2022.

“No doubt Gus Manning was a true legend—not only at Tennessee but also throughout the Southeastern Conference and national athletic circles,” Tennessee Athletics’ official historian Bud Ford said. “He was a principal figure in the growth of Tennessee Athletics as we know it today.”