Fraternity to sponsor football award

William Evans

The life of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant bears a special relationship to the Sigma Nu fraternity on campus.

As a student at the University, Bryant was initiated into Sigma Nu, and to honor his legacy, his fraternity will enter into a partnership with the American Heart Association to sponsor the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, a college football coach of the year award bestowed each January in Houston, Texas, that recognizes excellence both on and off the field.

“The Coach of the Year Award has been around since the 1950s, but after Coach Bryant died in 1983, the sports writers who determined who wins the award had communication with Coach Bryant’s family, and the award was renamed at that point,” said Brad Beacham, executive director of Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc. “The whole concept of the partnership is that Bryant was a Sigma Nu in 1938 while he was at the University and is obviously one of our most well-known and prominent alumni. Plus, it supports a fantastic cause.”

Proceeds from the ceremony benefit the American Heart Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing deaths and disabilities resulting from stroke and cardiovascular disease, such as the heart attack that led to Bryant’s death in 1983.

To raise funds, Sigma Nu will have its chapters located on campuses across the nation compete to see which chapter raises the most money.

If the Theta Chapter of Sigma Nu at the Capstone wins, some lucky members could be attending the award ceremony and have the opportunity to see the most revered college football coaches of the year.

“The most intriguing prize we would be able to offer would be attendance at the ceremony where five or six of the best college coaches are all together in one place,” he said.

The partnership with AHA stems from a larger initiative of Sigma Nu called the Helping Hand Initiative, the official philanthropic and service effort of the 177 collegiate chapters of the fraternity.

“Last academic year, Sigma Nu’s collegiate chapters reported raising more than $500,000 for charitable purposes and volunteered for more than 100,000 hours of community service work,” according to a press release from the fraternity.

Robert Durham, national president of the fraternity, said in the press release that Bryant’s life continues to set an example for the fraternity in its pursuit of excellence.

“We believe that the legacy of this great man provides an example that can inspire our collegiate brothers to meet their own obligation to excellence in all endeavors, in the same way that Coach Bryant inspired his players, his colleagues and this remarkable institution,” he said.

Kristin Rodriguez, director of the Bryant Awards for the American Heart Association, said in the press release that Sigma Nu’s support of AHA is representative of the life of Bryant.

“Thanks to supporters such as Sigma Nu Fraternity and our title sponsor, Marathon Oil Corporation, the Bryant Awards has raised more than $5 million over its history in support of the mission of the American Heart Association, helping us ensure that Coach Bryant’s legacy of excellence lives on,” she said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to grow that legacy with [Sigma Nu’s] support.”

Sigma Nu hopes to make its partnership with AHA into a long-term initiative.

Beacham said, “We certainly want to see it succeed and grow over time.”