FAYETTEVILLE -Arkansas student-athletes will be recognized and honored for their athletic and academic achievements over the past year at the inaugural HOGSPY Awards ceremony on Thursday at the Fayetteville Town Center.
Red carpet arrival is scheduled from 6-6:45 p.m. with the actual ceremony beginning at 7 p.m.
The event was created and developed by the members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee with partial inspiration coming from the ESPYs on ESPN, the CATSPYs at Kentucky and the VOLSCARS at Tennessee, among others.
The purpose is to celebrate the achievements of the year in front of all 19 Razorback teams, coaches and department staff.
“I appreciate the dedication of SAAC members and all of those who worked to make this program a reality,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long says. “The HOGSPY Awards fit perfectly within our stated mission of developing student-athletes to their fullest potential through intercollegiate athletics. I am confident that as our student-athletes continue to achieve remarkable things on and off the field, this night of recognition and celebration will quickly become another one of our treasured traditions.”
The event has been in the works since the spring of 2011, was made possible by a gift from Jeff Fox of the Circumference Group in Little Rock and will be hosted by ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes.
The ceremony includes recognition of student-athletes who participated in the Rookie Razorback Leadership Academy, the Emerging Leaders Razorback Academy and the Veteran Razorback Leadership Academy.
Presentations will be made to male and female recipients of the Razorback Leadership Academy Distinguished Leaders Award, Rookie of the Year, Top Graduating Senior, Hog Tough Award, Academic Merit Recognition, Personal Best Recognition, Brandon Burlsworth Award, High Academic Merit Recognition, Academic Team of the Year, Student-Athletes of the Year, Lee Spencer Cup Champion, Play of the Year, Senior Plaque distribution and Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
“We’re hoping every student-athlete, if they are in town, representatives of every coaching staff and all 250 employees are in attendance,” Eric Wood, associate athletic director for academics and student-athlete development, says. “We’ve planned for 700 people. This is a fun combination of academic and athletic awards, and it culminates with the presentation of senior plaques and rings. It’s a way to bring the entire department together to celebrate their accomplishments.”
The Razorback Leadership Academy Distinguished Leaders Award is for student-athletes who have completed the Leadership Academy and exhibited exceptional leadership on and off the field of play. The Rookie of the Year awards are for standout rookies who demonstrated outstanding athletic performance during competition. The HOGSPY definition of a rookie is any freshman student-athlete in their first year of competition for the Razorbacks. The graduating senior awards are based on the highest cumulative grade point averages.
The Hog Tough Award is in recognition of a game or competition where the team benefited from a shift in momentum which resulted in a victory. Academic Merit and High Merit awards are based on grade point averages. Personal Best awards are based on semester term grade point averages which are higher than the previous term.
Burlsworth awards go to student-athletes who exemplify Razorback character, service and achievement on and off the field. The Academic Team of the Year awards are based on cumulative grade point averages from the fall and spring. The Student-Athlete of the Year awards go to the overall standout athletes who had exceptional athletic performance and were instrumental in their team’s success. The Lee Spencer Cup champion is annually presented to the team demonstrating commitment, character and integrity, and which earns the most points in the five commitment areas reflected by Lee Spencer.
The Play of the Year goes to the individual who made a game-changing play which led to a victory. The Senior Plaque distribution is to honor all graduating seniors. The Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards are presented to those who excel in the classroom and best represent Razorback Athletics, and they must be a junior or senior with a 3.5 grade point average or better.
Before the winner in each category is announced, a video of each nominee will be played. Winners are not announced ahead of time and all nominees will be seated near the stage. Each winner will be presented a HOGSPY trophy and asked to make a few comments.
“The student-athletes are excited,” Wood says. “They’re all getting new outfits. There will be an arrival show on the red carpet like at the ESPYs and we’ve made a backdrop with the HOGSPY logo. Everybody is pumped up.”
All nominations for HOGSPY Awards were from the time period April 1, 2011, through April 1, 2012. Any competition after April 1, 2012, is eligible for the 2013 awards ceremony.
Head coaches made nominations for the various awards with all voting by a selection committee.