(GAINESVILLE, FL) -- The University of Florida Athletic Association will celebrate the first annual ‘Tom Petty Day’ on Saturday, October 15, 2022, in conjunction with the Gators football game against LSU. The University has also announced it will award the legendary icon an honorary Doctor of Music in May 2023.
In anticipation of ‘Tom Petty Day,’ the university, in partnership with the Tom Petty Estate, will launch a capsule collection that celebrates the late singer and his connection to the university and his hometown.
The Tom Petty Estate is donating its full proceeds from the sales of Tom Petty Day X Florida Collection merchandise to give back to underserved communities in Gainesville.
Kids Count and Family Promise will be the recipients this year. Kids Count supports education and early childhood interventions with an emphasis on literacy, while Family Promise works to bring families out of homelessness by providing housing and employment resources.
“It is so incredible for everyone in the family that UF is honoring our dad in his hometown this way. He loved the Gators and he loved Gainesville, he always talked jokingly about a doctorate from UF and he would have been totally blown away by all this. It is an added gift that we can give something back and provide much-needed resources to underserved communities in Gainesville. It is near and dear to our entire Petty family. Annakim and I have a mother, father, grandparents and an uncle and aunt who have lived here a long time. It’s unbelievable that now 90+ thousand people sing our dad’s song here at home games.” said Adria Petty, Tom Petty’s daughter.
Petty, a native of Gainesville, grew up in the area and worked as a groundskeeper at the university in his younger years. He often played at Gainesville area venues before moving to Los Angeles to launch his legendary musical career with The Heartbreakers, many of whom were also local to Gainesville. As a tribute to the singer and local icon following his death in 2017, the university played Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” one of the late artist’s biggest hits, in a game against the LSU Tigers in which 90,000 fans joined in a chill-inducing sing along that rang loudly through Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Since then, the song has been played between the third and fourth quarters of home football games and has become one of the favorite traditions amongst Florida fans.
“Tom Petty and his music has become engrained in the game day experience at The Swamp and serves as a community building rally cry for Gator fans,” said Scott Stricklin, athletic director for the Florida Gators. “We are excited to work with the Petty family to commemorate a Gainesville son through our upcoming game day celebration and this unique merchandise collection, and we know our fan base will proudly honor his connection to the university.”
The Tom Petty Day X Florida Collection is available now through the University of Florida Bookstore, both in-store and online, as well as the Gator Sport Shop. A limited quantity is also available on www.TomPetty.com.
On October 14-15 there will also be a airstream pop-up shop in conjunction with Tom Petty Day at the Swamp for the LSU match-up. The line will will feature high-end t-shirts by fashion licensee Original Retro Brand, as well as other gift items such as drink ware, key chains and more from top licensees WinCraft and LOGO Brands.
Details of the game day happenings will be provided at a later date.
The University Athletic Association’s strategic purpose is to provide a championship experience with integrity on and off the field for student-athletes and the Gator Nation. The Gator athletic program supports 21 teams and more than 500 student-athletes, giving them the opportunity to compete at the highest levels of collegiate athletics, while receiving an education from a top-five public university. Florida is the only school in the nation to finish in the top-10 nationally in all-sports rankings in each of the last 38 years and has posted 13 consecutive top-five finishes. Florida has won a national championship in each of the last 13 seasons and boasts 45 championships overall. Florida leads all Southeastern Conference schools with 255 league championships and overall has 266 conference titles to its credit. The UAA commits nearly $15 million to fund scholarships for student-athletes, who posted a recent graduation success rate of 92 percent and a 3.21 GPA in the Spring of 2022.
Over his 40-year career, Tom Petty became one of the biggest cultural icons in the world. In addition to the 13 studio albums he made with the Heartbreakers, Petty recorded 3 solo albums, including the acclaimed Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers. Petty was also a member of the supergroup, Traveling Wilburys, and in the pre-Heartbreakers band, Mudcrutch. Hailed as one of the greatest rock artists of all time, Petty’s list of achievements include: multiple Grammy Award winner, 80+ million records sold, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Tom Petty passed away in 2017 shortly after completing his 40th anniversary tour, but his music continues to reach fans, both new and old, around the world today with 4.8+ billion streams worldwide, 3+ million followers on Facebook, 768+ million views on YouTube and millions of listeners to the Tom Petty Radio channel on SiriusXM.