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Jim McKay Scholarship Program

In 2008, the National Collegiate Athletic Association established the Jim McKay Scholarship Program to recognize the immense contributions and legacy of pioneer sports journalist Jim McKay. Annually, one male and one female student-athlete are awarded a one-time $10,000 Jim McKay scholarship in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and their potential to make a major contribution to the sports communication industry. McKay scholars will be recognized as having a unique aptitude and commitment to the communications field while displaying the highest level of professional integrity, including the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability, with the element of compassion that so infused McKay's long and storied career.  While McKay scholars not need a major in communications or journalism, they should demonstrate achievement in sport communication or show an interest in making a contribution in the field.

Please read the information below carefully and note that only the faculty athletics representative or the chief academic officer of the institution at which the nominee is a varsity student-athlete may nominate qualified candidates.


To be eligible for consideration, nominees shall:

  1. Have an overall undergraduate cumulative grade-point average of 3.500 or better (based on a maximum 4.000), or the equivalent in other recognized grading systems;
  2. Have competed in intercollegiate athletics as a member of a varsity team at an NCAA member institution;
  3. Be enrolled in graduate study at an NCAA member institution or be a graduating senior committed to enrolling in a graduate degree program within five years of being named a McKay Scholar;
  4. Demonstrate efforts in the communication field or have an interest beyond their major to make a contribution to sports communication;
  5. Ascribe to the highest levels of integrity, including the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability;
  6. Have evidenced superior character and leadership;
  7. Have an understanding and appreciation for the legacy of Jim McKay, his contributions to sport broadcasting and specifically his award-winning oratory on the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

Overview of nomination process

The Jim McKay Scholarship nomination is submitted by the faculty athletics representative (FAR) or chief academic officer.  There is no limit to the number of qualified candidates that an institution can nominate.  It is the responsibility of the FAR or chief academic officer to ensure all sections of the nomination are submitted to the NCAA national office not later than January 15, 2016.   

FARs or chief academic officer must nominate qualified student-athletes using the application in Program Hub.   System-generated emails will be sent to the student-athlete to notify him or her they have been nominated. 

Application sections

The information described below must be completed online by the student-athlete:

  1. The application form, to be completed online by the student-athlete or the faculty athletics representative or chief academic officer of the nominating institution;
  2. A personal essay outlining the nominee’s short and long-term goals, explaining the relationship of the proposed postgraduate study to these goals and describing the student-athlete’s personal and intellectual development, including the role played in this development by intercollegiate athletics. This statement shall be authored by the nominee;
  3. Four factual lists.
    1. Principle activities while in college [excluding community activities];
    2. Athletics honors while in college [including athletics records, prizes, scholarships and offices held];
    3. Academic honors while in college and;
    4. Involvement in community activities with dates while in college. For the community activities list, please indicate the number of hours per week, weeks per year and the number of years of involvement. [If you are referencing an activity by its formal name, please provide a brief explanation of the project].
    5. Please do not substitute a resume in lieu of these lists and please do not include any one item on more than one list.
  4. Applicants must upload official transcripts to complete the application.  Official transcripts can be scanned and uploaded to the system as a .pdf document.  You must upload all transcripts at one time.  Please ensure the transcript reflect ALL undergraduate work
  5. Four letters of recommendation.
    1. A faculty member teaching in the discipline of the nominee’s baccalaureate degree;
    2. A person in a position to judge the nominee’s contribution to intercollegiate athletics;
    3. Two endorsers of your choice;
    4. The Endorsements tab will appear after an applicant has listed each endorser’s information (name and email address) and after the applicant has submitted his or her application.  The endorser will only receive an automated email upon application submission.  The endorser’s email address provided by the applicant must be used to log in to Program Hub to endorse.  This is the email address to which the notification was received

For more information, contact Lori Thomas at the NCAA national office at 317/917-6683 or by email at

Jim McKay Scholarship past recipients


  • Bryan Baumgartner, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
  • Kimberly Borza, University of Pennsylvania


  • Jonathan Gault, Dartmouth College
  • Kaitlin Morse, Southeastern Louisiana University


  • Michael Hoag, Wake Forest University
  • Adrienne Lerner, University of Pennsylvania
Jim McKay Scholarship: Key Dates

  • September 15, 2015 - Application Opens
  • January 15, 2016 - Application deadline at 5 p.m. EST
  • March 16, 2016 - Finalists notified

2015 Jim McKay Scholarship Winners

For 2015, the NCAA selected Cierra Burdick, a communication studies major from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who competed in basketball, and Cristian Gonzalez Mendez, a public relations major from Florida State University who competed in tennis, as recipients of the Jim McKay Scholarship.

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