Herb Neff

Hall of Fame • Class of 2014

Herbert P. Neff Jr, who was accustomed to reaching great heights, died at his home in Knoxville, after a lengthy bout with cancer, in 2000 at the age of 70.

Neff achieved much in athletics and academics. The slender, 6-foot 6 athlete won the SEC high jump championship in 1950 (6 ft 3.75 in) and 1951 (6 ft 6.5 in) as a member of the University of Tennessee’s track team. As a sophomore Neff won the SEC high jump final, and he also won the prestigious Penn Relays.

Neff was a two time track All-American, finishing 3rd at the NCAA Championships in 1951 and barely missed making the US Olympic team in 1952. Also in 1951 he officially jumped 6 ft 8.25 in at the Georgia AAU meet, just three inches shy of the world record at the time.

He learned to high jump in a sawdust pit on the family lawn. His first coach was his younger brother, Bob, who became one of the state’s top high school track and field coaches.

As a basketball player for the Vols, Neff’s 36 rebounds against Georgia in 1952 have never been bettered by a Vol. He had scored 28 points two weeks earlier against Tulane, and followed with 17 point efforts against Kentucky and Georgia Tech. He led the 1951-52 Vols in scoring (14.1 average) and rebounding (14.7).

After graduating from UT Neff was active in UT’s successful track & field recruitment process, helping Chuck Rohe bring many great athletes to Knoxville.

Neff was one of the original founders of the Knoxville Track Club in 1962. Neff also represented the KTC for many years in high jump competitions. As a member of the KTC track & field officials group, he officiated high school and college track & field meets for 21 years after graduation. Neff was recognized as the South’s best high jump official, working the SEC championships and all of UT’s and KTC’s meets. Neff even returned as a KTC track official in 1997.

Neff was an outstanding masters track & field competitor. At age 33 while competing for the Knoxville Track Club he high-jumped 6 ft 7 in at Warner Park, Chattanooga, to set a national age group record.

Neff also was an ardent volleyball player and traveled the nation competing in tournaments with the Knoxville YMCA team.

Neff earned his Bachelor and Masters degrees from UT and his Doctorate at Auburn. Neff was a UT professor of electrical engineering for more than 45 years, a researcher, and an author of three books concerning electro-magnetic fields.