KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Gus Manning passed away Sunday at 99, after nearly 50 years of service with the University of Tennessee Athletics Department.
Gus Manning was the last remaining administrative link with ties to Gen. Robert R. Neyland, who hired him in 1946. He held multiple positions during his time working at UT, serving eight athletic directors and 11 head football coaches.
Gus Manning retired in 2000 but held an office and the title of consultant athletics director until he died. His son Sammy Manning says UT was a big part of his and his children’s lives.
“He lived his life at the university. He spent most of his life there, and even after he retired he kept an office there and went every day,” Sammy Manning said.
Gus Manning attended 608 consecutive Tennessee football games and 455 consecutive home games.
Football greats and leaders within the industry have shared their condolences and memories of Gus Manning, including SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and former UT and NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. Gus Manning was working at UT when Peyton Manning joined the team, and they remained close friends.
“Peyton and him had a good relationship, and Peyton was awfully good to my dad,” Sammy Manning said.
In 2015, Gate 16 at Neyland Stadium was officially named “The Gus Manning Gate” thanks to a gift in his honor by Peyton Manning and his wife. Sammy shared a story of the first time the two met.
“When Peyton first came to school here, he was a freshman and he asked someone who that man was in the golf cart, and the man told him he was the mayor of Knoxville,” Sammy Manning said. “So, Peyton went and introduced himself, he said ‘how you doing mayor?’ and my dad didn’t know what in the world he was talking about. It’s a great little story.”
Aside from the legacy he left at UT, Gus Manning will be remembered as a loving father and grandfather. Sammy Manning’s wife Meg Manning said he always came to his grandchildren’s sporting events and loved to attend UT softball and volleyball games.
“He was just fun to be around, and always was happy. We had him for dinner when he wasn’t at UT, so he just was great to have around, we will miss him,” Meg Manningsaid.
A funeral mass will be held Monday, Feb. 20 at The Cathedral of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.