OKLAHOMA CITY – Scott Verplank will be lauded as Oklahoma City University’s 2015-16 Abe Lemons/Paul Hansen Award for Sports Excellence at the annual OCU Sports Spectacular dinner and auction 6 p.m. Thursday, April 7 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
The Abe Lemons/Paul Hansen Award honors an individual who significantly contributes to the growth of sports in the state. Last year’s recipient was former Oklahoma men’s basketball coach Billy Tubbs.
Past award winners include a number of men and women who have helped shape the sports landscape of Oklahoma: Ron Norick, Clay Bennett, Lee Allan Smith, Dr. William Grana, Stanley Draper Jr., Bob Funk, Barry Switzer, Mick Cornett, Bobby Murcer, Bart Conner, Bill Self, Tom J. McDaniel, Sherri Coale, Mike Knopp, Sam Presti and Joe Castiglione.
The OCU Sports Spectacular includes a dinner, entertainment and live and silent auctions. Proceeds benefit OCU’s 21 varsity intercollegiate sports programs and the Paul Hansen Memorial Scholarship and the Abe Lemons Endowed Athletic Scholarship. Those scholarships provide funding to OCU student-athletes who have completed their eligibility and are within one year of graduation.
The auction typically features a variety of items. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located on 1700 NE 63rd Street in Oklahoma City. Individual tickets are $100, and tables for eight are $750. Please RSVP by March 25. For ticket or sponsorship information or to donate auction items, call (405) 208-5660 or (405) 208-5309.
"The largest fundraising event of the year for Oklahoma City University athletics is the annual Sports Spectacular dinner and auction," Oklahoma City University athletic director Jim Abbott said. "We need the community’s help to make this event a success. OCU athletics depends on the funds the event raises to continue the success our teams enjoy."
Verplank has enjoyed an outstanding career in the game of golf and earned the distinction as one of the most successful amateur and professional golfers ever. He is one of 14 individuals who have won both the U.S. Amateur and the collegiate individual championship.
Verplank is a 30-year veteran of the PGA Tour. During his career, he has logged five victories, 94 top-10 finishes and has made 418 cuts in 644 starts. Verplank has been honored as the 1998 PGA comeback player of the year and with the 2002 Ben Hogan Award. The Hogan Award is given by the Golf Writers Association of America to an individual who has continued to be active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness. He has amassed $27.5 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour.
A member of the 2002 and 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup squads, Verplank also represented the United States at the Presidents Cup in 2005 and 2007.
At Oklahoma State, Verplank was a four-time all-American and 1986 Big Eight athlete of the year after winning the NCAA individual championship. Verplank earned first-team all-America honors in 1984, 1985 and 1986 after being named a second-team selection in 1983. In addition to winning the U.S. Amateur in 1984, he claimed NCAA medalist honors in 1986 and was a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team in 1985. Additionally, he was the recipient of the Fred Haskins Award in 1986 plus the Silver Anniversary Award in 2010. The Silver Anniversary Award recognizes six distinguished individuals annually on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their college athletics careers.
The 1983 season saw Verplank tie for second at the NCAA Championship, while helping the Cowboys capture the fifth of their 10 national titles. Verplank graduated from Oklahoma State in 1986 with a degree in organizational administration.
In 1985, he became the first amateur in 29 years to win a PGA Tour event, defeating Jim Thorpe in a playoff at the Western Open. He is originally from Dallas, where he was a regular at Brookhaven Country Club.
Off the course, Verplank and his wife Kim have created the Scott & Kim Verplank Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to provide young people challenged with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) the financial ability to pursue a college education.
Verplank knows the health challenges first hand, having been diagnosed at the age of 9 when his mother found him lapsed in a diabetic coma. With his family’s incredible support, as well as his drive and commitment, he has been extremely successful on the PGA Tour. He has also been able to lead a very fulfilling life at home, as a husband and father.
The Verplanks have four children – Scottie, Hannah, Emma and Heidi Ann. Scottie has been a four-year member of the Oklahoma City University men’s golf program.