Saturday's home game against Georgia isn't just a critical SEC East matchup for Tennessee; it's the Vols' annual OUTLIVE game.
Partnering with the UT Medical Center's cancer institute, coach Bruce Pearl and the basketball program have become crusaders in the fight against cancer.
"This Saturday, of course, CBS will be here, and that's our OUTLIVE game," Pearl said. "Every time you hear that word 'outlive,' it's a reminder to go get checked — men and women — and outlive cancer. Early detection is the key to survival, and so through what will be a white-out on Saturday where people are going to have the opportunity to buy their T-shirts, come to the game wearing their OUTLIVE T-shirts, and Tennessee basketball and the UT hospital's cancer institute's fight against cancer. It all just reminds us of Chris Lofton's battle against cancer and his victory over cancer."
Lofton was a star for the Vols from 2005-08. The Maysville, Ky., native was a three-time second-team All-American selection and finished his career as the school's fourth-leading scorer.
"Cancer is something that has affected every single one of us," Pearl said. "It has affected my family. It certainly affected my Tennessee basketball family when Chris Lofton was diagnosed with testicular cancer. But for the work at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, his life was saved."
Lofton played his senior year while recovering from cancer treatment.
Pearl said the goal of OUTLIVE is to raise more than $1 million for the UT Medical Center Cancer Institute.
"Working with coach Bruce Pearl and Tennessee basketball in 2010, the Cancer Institute at UT Medical Center and the OUTLIVE program reached more than 15,000 people in our community with education and prevention programs, which included cancer screenings," Dr. John L. Bell, director of the UT Medical Center Cancer Institute, said. "Prevention and early detection remain the foundation for long-term survival. Without programs and research funded by the OUTLIVE partnership, we would not be able to continue our mission of education, research and patient care. I am grateful to everyone for their support."
While supporting OUTLIVE financially requires buying a T-shirt, Pearl doesn't want UT students to worry.
"Once again, my family and I are going to buy 3,000 T-shirts for the students so those starving students won't have to buy their T-shirts," Pearl said. "It is our honor and privilege to be able to do that again this year."
Pearl just had one stipulation for the Rocky Top Rowdies.
"You have to be here to get that T-shirt," he said. "That's the one incentive."