From TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Ottis Phillips was a four-year letterman for the Golden Eagle football team under coach Don Wade from 1969 to 1972, helping Tech capture the OVC championship and qualify for the Grantland Rice Bowl during his senior season.
As a tailback, halfback, and fullback, he played 103 carries and rushed for 380 yards and three touchdowns. In those 103 attempts, he was only tackled once from behind the line of scrimmage to lose a yard. Including his pass receptions and kickoff returns, Phillips finished with 452 all-purpose yards.
In his last two seasons, Tech compiled an 18-4 overall record and won 12-2 in OVC play.
He is one of five inductees into the 48th class of the Tennessee Tech Sports Hall of Fame. In addition to Phillips, David Collett (football, 1998-2001), Tacarra Hayes Barnes (women’s basketball, 2008-12), Kevin Murphy (men’s basketball, 2008-12) and Dave Pratt (baseball/men’s basketball, 1964-67) will be there during the annual Hall of Fame Dinners on Friday evenings at 6:30 p.m. in the Roaden University Center Multipurpose Room. Dinner tickets are available by calling (931) 372-3940, the Eblen Center ticket office, or TTUsports.com.
As a member of the soccer team, his determination and willpower made him a formidable player, and those same qualities have made him a successful businessman and community leader. Phillips’ involvement in tech athletics and the community has been outstanding since his days as a Golden Eagle student athlete.
His work ethic and leadership qualities have always been evident on the griddle and these qualities have shone throughout his professional career. After graduating, he worked at Fleetguard, where he received a patent award for a diesel filter that he helped develop.
After working for Adolf Coors Co. in Golden, Colorado and Willowtree Distributing in Dallas, Texas, Phillips returned to his hometown in 1990 to accept a position as general manager at SEC Enterprises. His entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic gave him the opportunity to acquire the company just five years later in 1995. After further acquisitions and mergers, SEC/Mid-South was a $40 million annual company.
After selling the company to Knoxville-based Cherokee Distributing, Phillips became CEO of Progressive Financial Group, which was sold to SmartFinancial in 2019, and joined SmartFinancial’s board of directors. Phillips currently serves as the Chair of the TTU Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of the TTU Athletics Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee. He has also served as Chairman of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, President of the Cavalier Foundation, and in 2008 served on the first steering committee that brought the TSSAA BlueCross Bowl to TTU and the Cookeville community.
Phillips’ involvement in tech athletics and the community has been outstanding since his days as a Golden Eagle student athlete. In 1990, he helped found and continues to sponsor the annual Golden Eagle Football Alumni Reunion Weekend and Golf Classic, Tech Football’s largest fundraiser each year. His company was one of the original sponsors of the Golden Eagle Scramble, the athletic department’s largest annual fundraiser.
Phillips is co-chair of the committee tasked with raising $15 million to create and ensure sustainable success for the next generation of Tennessee tech football players, with a focus on the proposed Football Operations Center. Phillips is one of the largest annual and lifetime donors to Tennessee Tech Athletics.
Ottis has received a number of awards for his dedication, loyalty and dedication, including the 2013 Outstanding Athletics Alumni Award and the 2018 Tennessee Tech University Outstanding Philanthropy Award.