East Tennesseans crowd UT campus for Hoda and Kathie Lee

7:21 PM, Oct 1, 2012   |    comments
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The TODAY Show made a big splash in Big Orange Country Monday as Hota Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford, Sara Haines and the rest of the fourth hour crew set up shop on the University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus.

"I was up until 2:30 last night in preparation for skipping class this morning," UT student Shelby Burchell said.

She joined her friends and hundreds of others on The Hill in front of Ayres Hall for the live broadcast of the fourth hour of the TODAY Show.

"It's crazy to me that they came all the way from New York just to come to our university and that they picked us," UT student Bailey Bills said. "It's cool that they're being a Vol for a day."

UT beat out five other college finalists to win the "Kathie Lee and Hoda Go Back to College" contest. 

Correspondent Sara Haines visited the campus back on Sept. 19, and the online voting that ensued, brought back the whole crew Monday morning.

"Clearly, looking around, you guys really did it, you brought it," Kotb said.

Fans wore Volunteer orange, brought signs and cheered throughout the show.

Lady Vols Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt made a surprise appearance, and Kip Moore performed on the show.

The campus essentially rolled out the orange carpet for Kotb and Gifford.

"We love them," said Susan Sinatro, who brought along her husband. "This is exciting and just, you know, a show going on, just to watch it, and (my husband) was forced."

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