Gabe Ikard, senior center for the University of Oklahoma football team, has been named the 2013 Lee Roy Selmon Spirit Award winner by the Premier Players group in Tampa, Fla.
The award is given annually to the college football player who best represents the qualities of character that Selmon displayed with an emphasis on academic excellence and a commitment to community service. The honorees are selected by members of Selmon’s immediate family, his wife Claybra, and sons, Lee Roy Jr. and Christopher.
“To receive this award from the Selmon family is truly humbling,” Ikard said. “Particularly for a native Oklahoman like myself, to be the first individual from the University of Oklahoma to be recognized for representing everything that the Selmon family stands for is one of the most meaningful honors of my career.
“Coach Stoops does a great job of instilling in us the responsibility to not only carry on the tradition of Oklahoma Football on the field, but to also follow in the footsteps of those Sooners who have made a difference of lives of others in the community. I feel blessed in so many ways for all of the opportunities that attending the University of Oklahoma has provided for me, and I thank my family and all of those at OU who have supported me along the way.”
Selmon, a consensus All-American for OU in 1975 and an All-American in 1974, shared his name with this award prior to his untimely death in Sept. 2011, from complications of a massive stroke. At the time of his death, Selmon was serving as president of the University of South Florida Foundation Partnership for Athletics. He had previously served as an assistant AD at USF from 1993-2001 and USF director of athletics from 2001 until 2004.
In addition to the All-America honors he earned, Selmon received the Vince Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy, National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, CoSIDA Academic All-American and Graduate Fellowship Winner National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.
Following his OU career, Selmon was the first player selected in the 1976 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played in six pro bowls and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1979. After an injury ended his career in 1984, the Bucs retired his number in 1986. He was the first player to be inducted into the Tampa Bay Ring of Honor in 2009.
He was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-American Hall of Fame in 1994, OU’s first student-athlete to receive that honor. That followed his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and was followed by induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
“This was an award that Lee Roy was pleased to have his name attached to,” explained Claybra Selmon, Selmon’s wife of more than 30 years. “For Lee Roy, it was what he did off the field, particularly in regards to academics and service to others in the community, that was most important.
“This award continues to be so precious and very important to our family because the winners represent the things that Lee Roy considered the most important things in his life,” she continued.“Lee Roy’s life shows that you don’t have to have a famous name to make a difference. The most important thing is what you do for others. We are so excited about our honoree this year. It was unanimous across the board that Gabe represents what Lee Roy believed was important. We felt he was a perfect choice to receive the award.”