On December 2, The Heritage Group Sport Business Academy, Inc. (THGSBA) held its inaugural Ben L. Cavil, Sr. “Big Ben” Awards dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Houston-Medical Center, in conjunction with the HBCU-Athletic Research Consortium (HBCU-ARC) Conference.
The Ben L. Cavil, Sr. “Big Ben” Award is an award presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding HBCU Football Player of the Year who meets the THGSBA, Inc. selection criteria and who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Ben L. Cavil, Sr., which are: determination, diligence, integrity, performance, familial, teamwork, fraternal, and community engagement. The Ben L. Cavil, Sr. “Big Ben” Award recognizes a football player attending a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the State of Texas or was born or played high school football in the state of Texas and/or played at a Texas-based junior college and continued their career playing for an HBCU.
Known as the “Galloping Fullback,” Ben L. Cavil, Sr. helped grow the sport in Texas among the SWAC fans and the greater African American community, until it transcended into the fabric of the HBCU cultural identity as part of the growing legendary sporting HBCU Diaspora.
The finalists of the inaugural award this year were:
Senior, Texas Southern University (SWAC)
Callaway High School – Raymond, MS
R-Junior, Prairie View A&M University (SWAC)
Ozen High School – Beaumont, TX
Senior, Alcorn State University (SWAC)
Booker T. Washington High School – Houston, TX
Senior, Prairie View A&M University (SWAC)
Glen Oaks High School – Baton Rouge, LA
Junior, Jackson State University (SWAC)
Duncanville High School – Duncanville, TX
The winner of The Ben L. Cavil, Sr. “Big Ben” Award for 2015 was Johnta Hebert of Prairie View A&M University. Hebert led Prairie View in rushing, receptions and was tied for most scoring TDs in SWAC.
Several other awards and recognitions were handed out during the evening.
Cornelius Henderson of Jackson State University and John Gibbs, Jr. of Alcorn State University were both battling neck-and-neck to become the winner of the Online Fan Vote. Henderson was able to hold off Gibbs by securing 12,433 votes or 52 percent of the vote. Gibbs finished a close second, garnering over 10,000 votes for the honor.
In recognition of HBCUs that have made a significant impact, the 1952 Texas Southern University Black College Football National Champions were honored at the event. Texas Southern University claimed the nation’s Negro college football championship in 1952, after defeating Prairie View 13-12 on Thursday in the annual Prairie View Bowl game.
The Community Service Award was also given out to an individual who over an extended period of time tirelessly gives of himself/herself to the HBCU community in order to help others obtain equal access, equity, and inclusion in those that influence our lives. The winner of this year’s Community Service Award was none other than radio veteran personality Ralph Cooper. It was announced that the Community Service Award would be named annually after Cooper because of his many contributions to the world of sports, in particular the HBCU community.
On hand to celebrate the inaugural event were the two sons of Ben L. Cavil, Sr. (Ben L. Cavil, Jr. and William Campbell Cavil) and a host of other family members.
Dr. J. Kenyatta Cavil, Executive Director of THGSBA, is excited about the response to this year’s inaugural kickoff of The Ben L. Cavil, Sr. “Big Ben” Award, and is looking forward to an even greater response next year.