ESPN’s College GameDay headed to Rocky Top for Lady Vols vs. UConn matchup

ESPN’s College GameDay headed to Rocky Top for Lady Vols vs. UConn matchup

ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm travels to Knoxville on Thurs., Jan. 26, for its first of three women’s college basketball shows this season. The one-hour program will air at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, preceding the storied rivalry of No. 5 UConn and Tennessee that tips at 8 ET. The game is part of ESPN’s annual We Back Pat initiative honoring late women’s basketball coaching legend and Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt.

Elle Duncan will host the show from inside Thompson-Boling Arena, alongside women’s college basketball commentators Andraya Carter, Rebecca Lobo, Carolyn Peck and Holly Rowe. Lobo and Rowe will join play-by-play voice Ryan Ruocco on the call for the game. Carter played for the Lady Vols from 2012-16, Lobo starred at UConn from 1991-95 and Peck was an assistant coach under Summitt from 1993-95.

We Back Pat brings awareness to the Pat Summitt Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Summitt and her son Tyler launched the foundation in 2011 after her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, at the age of 59. UConn head coach Geno Auriemma was the first to donate to the organization when he contributed $10,000 in 2012.

“We are thrilled to continue integrating women’s college basketball into the College GameDay brand with additional shows this season,” said Patricia Lowry, ESPN vice president of production. “UConn-Tennessee is one of the preeminent rivalries in women’s college basketball and Pat Summitt remains the sport’s north star, while Geno Auriemma continues his historic run with the Huskies. Having the first show of 2023 at Tennessee for this matchup while supporting We Back Pat, with one of Summitt’s former players, Kellie (Jolly) Harper, now leading the Lady Vol program, it couldn’t be more fitting.”

“We are excited to welcome ESPN’s College GameDay back to the University of Tennessee and make our third all-time women’s appearance as we host UConn,” Harper said. “It just feels right to have College GameDay here to showcase one of the most historic rivalries in sports, and I know the atmosphere inside Thompson-Boling Arena and the energy of our fans will be incredible.”

“State Farm has a long history of elevating women in sports, and we will continue to provide our support,” said Kristyn Cook, State Farm Chief Agency, Sales & Marketing Officer. “It’s an honor to sponsor College GameDay while recognizing Coach Summitt and providing a venue for these two iconic college basketball programs to compete.”

This will mark the third consecutive time Tennessee has been involved in the four occasions where ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm has been on site for a women’s basketball game and the second time the show has visited The Summitt for a Lady Vol contest. Both of those occurrences are the most of any school.

On Feb. 20, 2022, College GameDay visited Columbia, S.C., as South Carolina hosted the Big Orange. The previous visit to a campus for women’s hoops came on Jan. 15, 2011, when Rocky Top was the site for GameDay as Tennessee hosted Vanderbilt on a day in which the Vols and Lady Vols played at noon and 8 p.m., respectively. It marked the first men’s and women’s doubleheader show for the network. The year before, ESPN was on hand for the Notre Dame at UConn game in Storrs, Conn., for the inaugural women’s GameDay on Jan. 16, 2010.

Details regarding the remaining women’s college basketball shows will be released by ESPN in the coming months.

-UT Athletics

ESPN College GameDay / Credit: UT Athletics