Peyton Manning returning to Tennessee as professor

Peyton Manning crashes Tennessee online class (2:10)

With the help of his former professor, Peyton Manning surprises a group of seniors from the University of Tennessee during an online class. (2:10)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Peyton Manning was a star both on and off the field at the University of Tennessee, and now he's returning to his alma mater as a professor.

The university announced Monday that the College of Communication and Information has appointed Manning as a professor of practice in the fall 2023 term. The Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback will join select classes during the academic year as a featured expert and work alongside the college's faculty to provide learning experiences for CCI students at Tennessee.

"There is no other ambassador for our college and university like Peyton Manning, and we are proud to welcome him to the college's faculty," said Joseph Mazer, dean of the College of Communication and Information. "Peyton is a true Volunteer, and I look forward to our students gaining invaluable knowledge from him as we continue to prepare the next generation of communication and information leaders."

Manning will come at a bargain in his new professorial role, as Mazer said, "In true Volunteer spirit, Peyton is teaching gratis."

Manning graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Tennessee with a degree in speech communication and led the Volunteers to an SEC championship in 1997. He has remained a staunch supporter of his alma mater while becoming a fixture in the media and entertainment world.

This football season will be his third on ESPN2's popular "ManningCast," as he and younger brother Eli combine to do an alternate broadcast during "Monday Night Football" games. Manning will co-host the Country Music Association Awards for the second straight year in November alongside Luke Bryan. Last year marked the first time the CMA tapped a professional athlete to host its annual ceremony. Manning has also hosted NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in 2007 and the ESPY Awards in 2017. He launched his Omaha Productions entertainment company in 2020, guest voiced (with brothers Cooper and Eli) on an episode of "The Simpsons" and has appeared in numerous television commercials.

"My time as a student in the College of Communication and Information was a foundational experience during which I learned critical skills and messaging techniques that I continue to put to use almost daily," Manning said. "I look forward to working with the college's talented faculty, and directly with students in an effort to ensure they are well prepared for their future careers."

Manning, 47, will partner with the CCI faculty and teach a variety of topics that align with the college's curriculum, including sports reporting, video production and performance, leadership and communication and public speaking. Manning plans to teach his fall classes in person.

Manning is well-versed in the sports media industry. His "Peyton's Places" documentary debuted on ESPN+ in 2020, featuring episodes in which he revisits seminal moments in NFL history through conversations with former players, coaches and other key figures about football and its cultural impact.

One of the most beloved figures in Tennessee sports history, Manning played all four years for the Vols and turned down a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft to return for his senior season. He was the No. 1 pick that next year in 1998 and won Super Bowl championships with both the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos during a record-setting NFL career.

Manning lives in Denver, but frequently attends Tennessee sporting events and is closely intertwined with the university and its community. He spoke at Pat Summitt's memorial service in 2016 and delivered a moving tribute to the Hall of Fame Lady Vols basketball coach. In 2018, he donated $1 million to establish the John Haas Student Experiential Learning endowment to honor the former director of the School of Communication Studies. Haas served as one of Manning's professors and his academic adviser at Tennessee.

The year after leaving Tennessee for the NFL, Manning endowed the Peyton Manning Scholarship, a competitive four-year opportunity for some of the brightest first-year UT students. The scholarship has benefited more than 50 recipients since its inception, and he returns to campus each year to recognize the newest scholars. Manning also provides internships through Omaha Productions to UT journalism and electronic media students, giving them hands-on experience.

Manning was 39-6 as a starting quarterback at Tennessee and holds the school record for career passing yards (11,201) and touchdown passes (89). As a pro, Manning was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player five times. He owns the NFL single-season record for touchdown passes (55 in 2013) and passed for 4,000-plus yards 14 times in his 18-year career, which is tied with Tom Brady.