College of Communication and Information alumni James T. Denton (’86) and Courtney Lyle (’12) were among the 23 Volunteers honored at the annual University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Alumni Awards Gala on Sept. 10 in the Student Union’s Pilot Company Ballroom.
Denton, known for his role as Mike Delfino in hit ABC series Desperate Housewives, received the Alumni Professional Achievement Award, and rising sports broadcaster Lyle, who worked her first Olympic Games last month, was awarded with the Alumni Promise Award.
J. Phenise Poole (’95), a member of the CCI Honorary Board of Visitors, led the ceremony as the current president of the UT Knoxville Alumni Board of Directors. She is currently senior vice president and deputy general counsel at Fifth Third Bank.
Alumni Professional Achievement Award
Well known for his role as Mike Delfino in the ABC series Desperate Housewives, James Denton is a graduate of the College of Communication and Information.
After graduating in 1986, Denton moved back to Nashville and spent four years selling advertising. It was during this time that he began acting in community theatre productions. He enjoyed acting so much that he moved to Chicago to make it a full-time career. He consistently landed theatre roles in Chicago, including a portrayal of C.C. Showers in The Diviners, which earned him a nomination for a Best Actor Joseph Jefferson Award, Chicago’s only theatre award.
Denton then moved to Los Angeles to pursue TV and movie acting. His first notable recurring role was as Mr. Lyle on The Pretender, which led to guest roles on The West Wing, The Drew Carey Show, and more. He continued to make appearances on multiple shows before being cast on Desperate Housewives, which garnered high ratings and continued for eight seasons. He has since appeared in a number of TV shows, movies, and musical projects. More recently, he was cast by the Hallmark Channel as Sam Radford in Good Witch. He has also had recent roles in Devious Maids, For Love & Honor, NCIS: New Orleans, and Wake.
Denton has received several awards, including the 2013 Faith and Family Best Film Actor Award for his role in Grace Unplugged. Other awards include a Prism Award, a Gold Derby TV Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Acting Awards for Desperate Housewives and a Teen Choice Award.
Denton has used his notoriety to support charitable causes. These include Warriors in Pink, a charitable foundation that aids the families of women who have breast cancer; animal rescue efforts; environmental protection efforts; and mentorship programs for young actors.
Denton, his wife Erin, and their two children reside in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Alumni Promise Award
Courtney Lyle joins the ranks of Volunteers who have gone on to achieve acclaim in sports broadcasting. From her graduation from the College of Communication and Information in 2012 to ESPN, she has had a remarkable rise.
While a student at UT, Lyle served two internships at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut; an internship with the Tennessee Titans Radio Network; a sports internship at WVLT-TV in Knoxville; and a season in 2012 producing The Pat Summitt Show for the Vol Network-IMG. After graduation she was picked up as a sports multimedia journalist and weekend sports anchor for WBIR-TV in Knoxville. She also spent a year and a half working as a weekend sports anchor for 13WMAZ-TV in Macon, Georgia.
In 2016, Lyle was hired by ESPN as a play-by-play broadcaster, making her the youngest full-time play-by- play broadcaster at ESPN. From the beginning, she called basketball, volleyball, and softball games for the SEC Network. Over the past four years, she has continued her upward trajectory. In 2019 alone, she worked 93 events across the country, covering basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, and softball. Most notably, she served as a broadcaster for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and did play-by-play for the opening games alongside WNBA legend and Lady Vol basketball great Tamika Catchings (’00, ’05). In 2021, Lyle was a play-by-play announcer for the Tokyo Olympics for men’s and women’s field hockey.
Lyle retains her strong connection with UT and frequently serves as a guest speaker in journalism and electronic media classes.