Since 1965, the Ed Murphey Award has been presented for the most noteworthy performance from the previous year's track and field season at UT. In the history of Tennessee track and field, there have been few athletes more dominant in their discipline as Ed Murphey was from 1954-57.
A native of Dearborn, Mich., Mr. Murphey attended Brownsville (Tenn.) High School and earned a track and field scholarship at Tennessee. Murphey came to the Volunteers for head coach John Sines from the small town in Haywood County and lettered in cross country and track at UT from 1954-57. He was team captain his senior season.
In cross country, he was the runner-up at the 1955 SEC Championships. A year later in 1956, he won the SEC individual championship with an SEC-record time of 21:21 on the 4.4 mile course in Atlanta, leading Tennessee to the team title.
But Murphey's true gift was in the mile/1500 meters. The SEC Championship meet ran a mile distance, while the NCAA meets ran the international-standard 1,500 meters. He was a three-time SEC outdoor champion in the mile, taking first place from 1955 to 1957, setting an SEC record in 1957 in 4:14.8.
He was an outdoor track & field All-America in 1956; finishing sixth in the 1,500 meters at the national championship meet with a school record time of 3.52.5. That performance qualified Murphey for the 1956 Olympic time trials. At the Olympic time trials, Murphey came within one-tenth of a second of duplicating his time, finishing seventh in 3:52.6. The finish left him short of the three spots for the United States Olympic Team. His Tennessee career ended with his SEC record in the mile at the 1957 SEC championship.
After graduation, Murphey returned to the west side of the state and founded Ed Murphey & Associates in Memphis, specializing in the sale of life insurance for estate planning. Murphey was inducted into the Brownsville Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and was a part of the 2005 class inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Mr. Murphey passed away in Memphis in October 2014.