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History of the Jim Thorpe Award

The Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in college football was created in 1986. It was conceived by former Oklahoma City talk show host Ed Sossen and former Jim Thorpe Association (now Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame) Executive Director, W. Lynne Draper as a way to positively promote Oklahoma nationally. The award, which was universally accepted as one of the nation’s top collegiate sports honors, is awarded based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character.

A preseason “watch list” is compiled by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame based on previous performance and preseason All-America lists. A Screening Committee of Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame members monitors the watch list players and narrows the field to 15 semi-finalists on the first Monday of November. This committee reconvenes on the Monday before Thanksgiving to select three award finalists. The three finalists are submitted to a national panel of over 50 sports writers, sportscasters, former players and coaches who vote to determine the Jim Thorpe Award winner.

All three finalists are invited to ESPN’s College Football Awards Show broadcast from Orlando in December where the winner is announced. The official presentation of the award takes place in February, at a formal banquet in Oklahoma City.

The Jim Thorpe Award Banquet is sponsored by INTEGRIS Health and the Chickasaw Nation.  Each year the winner visits patients at Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital and is hosted by INTEGRIS for a luncheon. For more information about INTEGRIS Click Here. For more information about the Chickasaw Nation Click Here.


The 2014 Jim Thorpe Award Key Dates

July 11, 2014 – Watch List Released

October 27, 2014 – Semi Finalists Announced

November 24, 2014 – Finalists Announced

December 11, 2014 – Winner Announced

February 3, 2015 – Banquet

For Banquet Information and to purchase tickets click here.