The Athens, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce is having a benefit dinner in June and Alabama coach Nick Saban is scheduled to speak. That’s angered some Tennessee fans who are making their feelings quite clear. According to Mark Wiedmer of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, one upset fan even went so far as to make a death wish.
Chamber president Rob Preston told Weidmer the disturbing phone call came over Easter weekend.
“It was filled with cuss words. It said, ‘Whoever is responsible for this should be dead.’…
“We’re going to have extra security that night, both for Coach Saban and myself. We’ll be prepared.”
Preston says that’s not the only feedback he’s received. Several people have emailed him to voice their displeasure.
(email 1) “If you do not cancel Saban AND apologize for being so financially irresponsible, we are taking the list of members and are going to actively boycott any and all businesses who are members or are related to the chamber in any way.”
(email 2) “You are an absolute joke and a disgrace to the state of Tennessee. Why do you think it is OK to bring in Nick Saban to speak? … Are you hoping he will get to do some recruiting and further damage the state of Tennessee’s football program? I wish you all the worst and hope your event is a complete failure — Rocky Top for Life.”
(email 3) “This is the ultimate disrespect to the University of Tennessee and all Vols fans, and it amounts to kicking us when we’re down. It’s the college sports equivalent of scheduling a Nazi to speak in Israel. I hope your power fails, your catering is illness-laden and that the backlash boycott sets Athens businesses back 25 years.”
Preston says the event has sold 1,376 tickets compared to 276 people who showed up last year to see former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and players Al Wilson and Peerless Price from the 1998 national championship team. Ticket sales will be cut off at 1,500 because of facility size limits.
The money goes to help local businesses and organizations. ”This will be, by far, the most money we’ve ever raised from one dinner.” (Hat tip - AL.com)