Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The Cecil Hurt Support Fund for Excellence in Sports Media is now fully endowed, with the first recipient set to be named by the College of Communication & Information Sciences (C&IS) in Spring 2024. The award honors the life and legacy of sportswriter Cecil Hurt, who worked for The Tuscaloosa News for almost 40 years before his death in 2021.
“The fund was a labor of love,” said Chad Mize, a long-time friend of Hurt who spearheaded the award’s endowment. “So many people loved and miss Cecil’s wit and warmth, so this endowment is a great way to extend his impact for generations to come.”
Mize also said that while the fund has reached the endowment level, he hopes contributions will continue to grow the funds to support more students studying sports media.
“[Hurt] was the most important and influential journalist who has ever covered The University of Alabama,” said Paul Finebaum, American sportswriter and C&IS Hall of Fame Award recipient. “He was also the best. He was an institution and beloved by all.”
Born in Tuscaloosa, Hurt graduated from UA in 1981 with a degree in English and a minor in psychology.
“C&IS is proud to have among our graduates many prominent personalities in sports media. The Cecil Hurt Support Fund recognizes the best of next generation sports communication professionals among our current students,” said Dr. Brian Butler, C&IS dean.
Dr. Andrew Billings, executive director of the Alabama Program in Sports Communication, added that the award is a fitting tribute because so many students and early career sports journalists recall Hurt seeking them out in a crowded room to mentor them in the early stages of their careers.
While Hurt began his journalism career as a sportswriter, he later became the newspaper’s sports editor and columnist. Fans celebrated his coverage of Crimson Tide football, with Tuscaloosa News editor Ken Roberts calling him the only legend he had ever known.
“For years, a common theme at UA athletic events had been for others to ponder, ‘What would Cecil say?’” said Mize.
When asked to imagine Hurt’s response to the support fund, Mize said, “It would probably involve a self-deprecating joke, then a smile. A satisfied smile from a job well done.”
If you would like to support the Cecil Hurt Endowed Support Fund for Excellence in Sports Media, visit the UA Giving page.