Ben Plotnicki

Hall of Fame • Class of 2014

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 I’ve 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 Club’s 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 in 1965.

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."

Plotnicki’s significant contribution to the formation and growth of the KTC can best be remembered by his worthy selection to the KTC Hall of Fame.