Robert R. Neyland

Category: Army ROTC Alumni Council Hall of Fame | Communities

Brigadier General Robert R. Neyland was commissioned at the United States Military Academy in 1916 as a Corps of Engineers second lieutenant. As a career Army officer, Neyland served with distinction in France during WWI, and on the Mexican border against Pancho Villa, and in Asia during WWII. During WWII, Neyland was decorated by the US, British, and Chinese Governments.

After WWI and coaching football at West Point, Neyland sought the opportunity to teach military science and continue his football career. Captain Neyland was assigned to the UT Military Science department and simultaneously served on the football team coaching staff. After one season as a UT football assistant, Neyland was named head coach. He coached the team for nine years before the Army assigned him for service in Panama.

Retiring from the Army for the first time in 1936, he returned to UT as the head coach. Neyland’s 1938 team went undefeated and was proclaimed national champion.

He was recalled to military service in 1941. In World War II, Neyland served in the China-Burma-India Theater, supervising the transportation of material through monsoons and across the Himalayas to the troops. He retired from military service a second time in 1946 as a brigadier general and served as the Vols head coach through 1952. His 1950 team was crowned national champion, while his 1951 team won the school’s first undisputed national championship.

Neyland served as the UT athletic director until his death in March 1962.