Presented to the nation's best defensive back in college football | Est. 1986


The Motive

The first Jim Thorpe Award was presented in 1986, and is named after legendary athlete and Oklahoma Native, Jim Thorpe. 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 in a national light. The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award is universally accepted as one of the  nation's top collegiate sports honors, and is presented to individual athletes based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character. 

Paycom Software, Inc. (“Paycom”) (NYSE:PAYC), a leading provider of comprehensive, cloud-based human capital management software, and the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame jointly announced (May of 2017) an exclusive sponsorship of the Jim Thorpe Award. As a result, the accolade is named the “Paycom Jim Thorpe Award.”

The Process

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, consisting of Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame members, monitor the watch list players and narrow the field to 10-15 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 250 sports writers, sportscasters, former players and coaches who vote to determine the winner of the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award.

All three finalists are invited and required to attend The Home Depot College Football Awards Show, Presented by Gildan, with broadcast live on ESPN from Atlanta, Georgia, where the winner is announced. Other recognized NCFAA awards announced include: Bednarik Award, Maxwell Award, Mackey Award, Rimington Trophy, Lou Groza Award, Ray Guy Award, Bronko Nagurski Award, Outland Trophy, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award, Biletnikoff Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Award.

The  official presentation of the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award takes place in Oklahoma City, following the ESPN live presentation at The Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The current winner and all former winners are invited back each year to celebrate. Over 800 supporters attend the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Banquet each year,  including many celebrities and dignitaries.

The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit NCFAA to learn more about our story. 

Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Partners