Ben Plotnicki retired in 1977 after 32 years as a member of the UT Health, Physical Education and Recreation faculty. Plotnicki died in 1981 at the age of 68.
Plotnicki helped organize the Knoxville Track Club and was highly regarded
as a starter and track and field official. He served as starter for 28
years, including several Southeastern Conference championship meets, state
high school championships and the 1969 NCAA meet at Tom Black Track.
"In the 10 years Ive been here, he was probably the most authoritative
and highest-ranking person in track and field in Knoxville," said
UT track coach Stan Huntsman. "He did as much for the quality of
track here and in the Southeast as any one person. Besides that, he was
a gentleman in the truest sense."
As one of the eight charter members of the Knoxville Track Club Plotnicki
was one of the driving forces behind the Clubs growth and success.
Plotnicki was credited with helping bring Chuck Rohe to UT, a move that
put the Vols into national and international track competition and success.
In the spring of 1962 Plotnicki and others took three car loads of runners
to an open AAU meet at Furman University; this was the inaugural KTC track
team and the beginning of its competitive activities. The team came back
with the first place team trophy and also a recommendation for the new
UT track coach. At the meet, after seeing Furman head track coach Chuck
Rohe in operation, Plotnicki recommended Rohe to the late Bowden Wyatt,
then head UT football coach and athletic director, as the track coach.
Rohe was subsequently hired.
Plotnicki played professional football two years as a tailback, with
the Wilmington, Delaware, and Paterson, New Jersey teams, for $75 to $80
a game while NFL players were earning about $100.
After completing his military duty with the Navy as a physical instructor,
Plotnicki returned to UT and received his Masters degree in 1945, and
remained at UT as an instructor. He received the Doctor of Education degree
from Boston University in 1960.
Plotnicki received many honors, including the Tennessee Association of
Health, Physical Education and Recreation Distinguished Service Honor
The Plotnicki Mile at the Sea Ray Relays is named in his honor. The UT
Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation honor him with
the Plotnicki Award, "recognizing undergraduates for their professional
promise and personal growth, with special consideration for fitness of
mind, body, and spirit."
Plotnickis significant contribution to the formation and growth
of the KTC can best be remembered by his worthy selection to the KTC Hall