Andy Kozar: A visionary, a scholar, and a gentleman

Kozar with colleagues

Andy Kozar was the Vol we all aspire to become

[After Andy Kozar’s death on April 28, a team of his close colleagues offered to write an appreciation of this truly exceptional Volunteer, and since we couldn’t hope to do better, here it is.]

Many of you may know Andy Kozar as an outstanding football player on General Robert Neyland’s 1951 National Championship team; we were fortunate to know him as a friend, scholar, colleague, and department head.

For those interested in contributing to Andy’s memory for all he did for the University of Tennessee and its students, please send donations marked Sports Art Fund or The Andy Kozar Graduate Research Endowment Fund to this address:

Dixie Thompson, Ph.D.
Department Head
Department of Exercise, Sport, and Leisure Studies
1914 Andy Holt Avenue, HPER 322
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-2700

Our association with Andy dates back to 1965 when he was a well-respected and popular member of the faculty at the University of Michigan, where he had earned master’s and doctoral degrees. His leadership abilities were already evident, and he was on track to eventually head his department.

Despite a secure future in Ann Arbor, Andy returned to the University of Tennessee in 1966, bringing with him a vision of how a great university could have an impact on the welfare of a state and its citizens. Part of his vision included the development of a laboratory dedicated to the study of exercise and sport, with a focus on the role of physical activity in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease.

Andy hired one of us (HGW) in 1968 to design a state-of-the-art exercise physiology laboratory to move his vision forward; the other (ETH) joined the faculty in 1970. In 1972 Andy hired Henry J. Montoye, Ph.D., an internationally known scholar in physical activity and health, to complete the critical mass needed to bring the vision to reality.

The laboratory was one of the best in the country and unique, at that time, in the Southeastern Conference. It became a model for many schools to follow. Over the years it achieved national and international recognition and produced a significant number of scholars, teachers, and administrators. The laboratory, with an even sharper focus on research on physical activity and health, continues to be one of the most productive, even after 40-plus years of operation—a true testament to his vision.

Andy believed in service to the profession and community, and he led by example. He was a leading force, in collaboration with Henry Montoye, in the establishment of the Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, which Andy served as its first president. Since that time, two exercise science faculty members and six former doctoral students from the laboratory have also served as president of that organization.

Andy left the department in the mid-’70s to serve as the executive assistant to the president of the University of Tennessee. When he returned to the department in the mid-’80s with the title of University Professor, he rejoined the faculty and continued to make his contributions, but this time by focusing on undergraduates. He was our program’s first contact with potential majors in the “Introduction to Exercise Science” class that he developed, and there could not have been a better one. Andy also focused his attention on creating development initiatives for the exercise science program to support graduate students’ research and outreach activities. He was able to attract generous benefactors who were interested in supporting research dealing with physical activity and health. These gifts will continue to support graduate student research and scholarship long into the future.

McKenzie bookCentral to all of this was Andy’s commitment to academic excellence and his insistence on high standards. His method was to hire good people, give them support, and let them work. He was content to stay in the background, with little concern about who received the credit. However, one of his former students, Davy Bledsoe, created the Andy Kozar Graduate Research Endowment Fund to recognize the impact Andy had had on his life. Each year Kozar scholarships are given to outstanding doctoral students who have demonstrated excellence through their research presentations and publications.

Although Andy’s early research addressed issues related to youth and adult fitness, most of his later scholarship focused on sport art and led to several outstanding accomplishments. A good bit of his life was spent studying Dr. R. Tait McKenzie, a physical educator and physician who was an accomplished sculptor of athletes. Andy’s book The Sport Sculpture of R. Tait McKenzie provides a detailed biography of this artist’s life, with wonderful photos of his work.

Football as a War Game

Andy went one step further when he brought the Joseph B. Wolffe Collection of R. Tait McKenzie Sculpture of Athletes to the University of Tennessee campus. We encourage everyone to stop by Thornton Student Life Center to view this collection when you are on campus. In 2002 Andy was able to combine his great love of both UT football and his coach in his book Football as a War Game, using General Neyland’s personal notebooks. The book provides unique insights into the life and times of General Neyland and Tennessee football.

Through all of the years we knew Andy, his love for his wife, Marian, and his children, Mary Anne, Amy, and A. J., was topmost in his life. A close second was his love for the University of Tennessee, to which he literally gave his life’s energy. We were recipients of that special energy and we will miss his quick smile, warm greeting, and positive outlook on life.

—Hugh G. Welch, Ph.D., Professor emeritus
—Edward T. Howley, Ph.D., Professor emeritus

Pictured at top, from left to right: Henry Montoye, Ed Howley, Andy Kozar, and Hugh Welch

3 Comments on “Andy Kozar: A visionary, a scholar, and a gentleman

  1. Andy Kozar had a direct and important impact on my professional life. In 1967, I was admitted to the Doctoral program in Exercise Physiology that Drs. Kozar and Hugh Welch developed at UTK. DR. Kozar was the Departmental Chairperson and provided the leadership that allowed that program to become an excellent one in a short period of time. After graduating in 1972, I began an academic career at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville which continued until I retired in 2007. I would never have had that opportunity or success without my University of Tennessee education.

    Dr. Kozar was an outstanding academician and wonderful human being for whom I have always had the utmost respect and admiration. He carried himself with great confidence, character and humility. Thanks, Andy, you were one of my real-life heros.

  2. I got to meet D Kozar a few years ago when he came to our alumni assn spring banquet and spoke.
    My daughter was getting ready to attend UT a year after that (she will be starting her junior year), and spoke at length, as she was planning to study exercise science…
    Whenever I would visit the campus , I would stop by and he treated me as if I had been a student or friend for years; always finding time, he arranged to meet with my daughter the summer before she enrolled, and gave her the chance to meet faculty. Again, he always treated us as if we had known each other for years, his staff was equally as cordial.

    I never knew him as a teacher/educator in his class, but I am certain he was excellent, and his love for UTand students was so obvious to anyone who came into contact with him.

    I am sure he will be missed, he was certainly an asset to UT, and I am sure his family all know what type of person he was and how many lives he must have touched, for the better.

  3. I remember Andy Kozar as a great football player from my early teen years. I was at the Florida game (I believe) when he was injured with a broken collarbone (?). We all heard the crack, and our hero was down. Years later I met Dr. Kozar at a Chicago Alum get together. We chatted a long time about past games and future hopes. He is a man who should be remembered and honored by Tennessee for both of his great careers.