You are here

Jim McKay Graduate Scholarship

In 2008, the National Collegiate Athletic Association established the Jim McKay Scholarship to recognize the immense contributions and legacy of pioneer sports journalist Jim McKay. Annually, one male and one female student or student-athlete will be 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 or public relations. 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 do not need a major in communications or journalism, they should demonstrate achievement in sport communication, public relations or at least show an interest in contributing to the field.

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

All former student-athletes who earned an undergraduate degree from an NCAA member school are eligible to be nominated by that school for an NCAA graduate degree scholarship, regardless of when they received their undergraduate degree.


Students or student-athletes at an active NCAA member institution who:

  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. Are in their final season of NCAA athletics eligibility or will not be using any remaining athletics eligibility;
  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 contribute 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 FAR Designee. There is no limit to the number of qualified students or student-athletes that an institution can nominate. It is the responsibility of the FAR or FAR Designee to ensure all sections of the nomination are submitted to the NCAA national office not later than January 21, 2021.

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

Application sections

The information described below must be completed online by the nominee:

  1. The application form, to be completed online by the student, student-athlete, the faculty athletics representative or FAR Designee of the nominating institution;
  2. A personal essay outlining the nominee’s short and long-term goals, explaining the relationship of the proposed graduate study to these goals and describing the student or student-athlete’s personal and intellectual development, including the role played in this development by intercollegiate athletics. This statement shall be written by the nominee;
  3. Four factual lists.
    1. Principle activities while in college [excluding community activities];
    2. Student-athletes:  Athletics honors while in college [including athletics records, prizes, scholarships and offices held];
    3. Students:  Internships or activities that demonstrate an effort to contribute to sports communication or public relations.
    4. Academic honors while in college and;
    5. 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].

Please do not substitute a resume in lieu of these lists and please do not include any one item on more than one list.

  1. 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 only.
  2. Four letters of recommendation, by four different people.
    1. A faculty member teaching in the discipline of the nominee’s baccalaureate degree;
    2. A person able to judge the nominee’s contribution to intercollegiate athletics or academic advisor;
    3. A person in the position to speak about your community service and leadership.
    4. One endorser of your choice;

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: Key Dates

  • Sep. 15: Application Opens
  • Jan. 21, 2021: Application deadline at 5 p.m. Eastern
  • March 2021: Finalists notified
  • March 25-26, 2021: Videoconference interviews

2020 Jim McKay Scholarship Winner

Abigail Holland of Trinity (Texas) will receive a $10,000 Jim McKay Scholarship, awarded by the NCAA to college athletes who demonstrate achievement in sports communication or public relations or hope to contribute to the field.

Read More >