Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame
The Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame began as the AISD Hall of Fame in 1988. The AISD Hall of Fame inducted 10 inaugural members, but was disbanded after two years. Then, in 2002, the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame began as an effort to honor the outstanding high school athletes and coaches from a nineteen-county area surrounding Abilene. With the blessing of the AISD, the original 10 members of the AISD were included in the new Big Country Hall of Fame.
Texas State Technical College-West Texas was the sponsor of the event from 2002-09, using the Hall of Fame banquet as a way to raise more than $150,000 in scholarships for its students. TSTC dropped its sponsorship of the Hall of Fame following the 2009 banquet, and a non-profit Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame board of directors was formed and began raising money for a permanent Hall of Fame. It is located in the One AISD Center, 241 Pine Street in downtown Abilene. A grand opening of the museum was held May 10, 2010.
Two scholarships were established in 2010 by the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame organization. The first Endowment, the Nancy and Ted Paup Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame Scholarship, was established with a gift from these former Abilenians for two scholarships – one for either an Abilene High or a Cooper High senior and one for an Albany High senior. (See this opportunity in Community Foundation scholarships listing.) This inspired the Board of Directors for the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame to match the Paup Endowment with their own to include the rest of the area providing multiple scholarships each spring. The scholarship recipients are presented at the annual banquet. .
The 19 counties included in this opportunity are Knox, Kent, Stonewall, Haskell, Throckmorton, Scurry, Fisher, Jones, Shackelford, Stephens, Mitchell, Nolan, Taylor, Callahan, Eastland, Runnels, Coleman, Brown, and Comanche;
With the inclusion of the Class of 2013, there are now 105 members of the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame, a impressive group that includes four members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, several members of the College Football Hall of Fame, a number of Olympians, a Masters champion, former and some current NFL, NBA and major league baseball players, numerous state champion athletes and coaches and the most decorated athlete in the history of the University Interscholastic League – all of whom called the Big Country their home growing up.