Former Tennessee basketball captain Major Wingate dies at 37

Mike Wilson
Knoxville News Sentinel

Former Tennessee men's basketball captain Major Wingate has died. He was 37.

Wingate played at Tennessee from 2003-06.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Wingate started 52 times in 89 career games in three seasons for the Vols. He averaged 6.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game in his career.

He had his best season as a junior. He averaged 10.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 blocks per game in that 2005-06 season, coach Bruce Pearl's first at Tennessee. Wingate started 29 times in 30 games, averaging 24.9 minutes per game while shooting 56.4%. 

He was dismissed in September 2006 after a third failed drug test.

"I talked to the players before the coaches did because it was the right thing to do,''  Wingate told Knox News when he was dismissed. "They are a part of my family, and I'll still bend over backwards for them. We've grown closer as the years have gone by.

"I also most definitely need to apologize to the fans because they have been behind me all the way.''

Tennessee's Major Wingate has a laugh during practice in Greensboro, NC on Wednesday. The Volunteers will face Winthrop in the opening round of the 2006 NCAA tournament on Thursday.

Wingate averaged 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore. He was a part-time starter as a freshman in 2003-04, averaging 3.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in 16.2 minutes per game.

030806wingate5.mc#5305  J. Miles Cary The Knoxville News Sentinel  staff   March 8, 2006 
University of Tennessee Basketball player  Major Wingate, 22, a junior from Florence, South Carolina.   Wingate keeps two Burmese Pythons in his off-campus apartment.   The star player also has a pitbull dog.  Wingate is wearing one of his trade mark headbands.

Wingate was a high school star at Wilson in Florence, South Carolina, and played his senior season at North Gwinnet in Georgia.

Wingate played professionally in Turkey, France, China, Romania and Puerto Rico following his Tennessee career.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.