Beginning with the inaugural ceremony in 2011, Ole Miss honors athletics achievement annually with the Rebels' Choice Awards, which kick off Grove Bowl Week on campus. The semi-formal event is held at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts, and the 2012 edition is scheduled for April 16.
The Rebels' Choice Awards include 14 categories in which the winners are selected by Ole Miss' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Three additional awards are determined by the fans, who are encouraged to visit www.rebelschoiceawards.com and cast their ballot for the Play of the Year, Game of the Year and Fan Favorite Rebel.
The event showcases the spirit and success of Ole Miss Athletics through presentations, performances and video productions. Festivities begin with a red carpet event for student-athletes and athletics.
"We decided to develop the Rebels' Choice Awards to celebrate our student-athletes achievements on and off the playing fields and courts," said Ole Miss Assistant Athletics Director Jamil Northcutt. "Additionally, we hope this annual event will build community with our internal and external constituents. It will be great to have all of our student-athletes, coaches, university community and fans all in one place. It will definitely be a fun night for everyone."
Awards include men's and women's sports winners in the categories of Most Valuable Rebel, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Hotty Toddy Award and Community Outreach Award.
Honors will be based on performances from the calendar year. The sports of football, soccer, volleyball, basketball and rifle will be judged on the current campaign, while baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track & field which will look at the previous athletic year.
Awards programs are not new to college athletics. Kentucky's Catsbys and Tennessee's Volscars are among the awards programs in the Southeastern Conference that served as examples for Ole Miss' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
"Other SEC schools have had similar awards shows in the past few years and been really successful with it," said Gabby Rangel, Rebel tennis player and SAAC Representative. "We expect that the Rebels' Choice Awards this year will bring a new and exciting way to recognize our coaches and athletes for their hard work and success inside and outside the field/court, and we hope that in the future this event will only get bigger and better so that it becomes something the entire university will look forward to each year."
SAAC began exploring the possibility of an awards show in December 2010 and decided to build it into Ole Miss' festivities for National Student-Athlete Day, which is celebrated each April.
"SAAC felt as though an ESPYs type show would be a great way to recognize the people who are the heart of our organization, student-athletes, coaches and fans," said Juliana Smith, SAAC President and Rebel Track & Field athlete. "What better time to do it than National Student-Athlete Day! We hope that this year will set the tone for even better shows as the years progress."
Established in 1987, National Student-Athlete Day is America's day to celebrate outstanding student-athletes who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics while having made significant contributions to the community. The day was established by the National Consortium for Academics & Sports and Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society and is co-sponsored by the NCAA.