Honor to be presented to former Southland Conference commissioner on Dec. 6 in Las Vegas for extraordinary contributions to the National Football Foundation and embodiment of its mission of Building Leaders Through Football.
Then Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett awards the 2019 league championship football trophy to Nicholls State on Nov. 21, 2019.
FRISCO, Texas – Tom Burnett, President & CEO of Frisco-based Southwest Sports Partners, LLC, has been named a recipient of the National Football Foundation’s Legacy Award. The honor will be presented to Burnett at the 2022 NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday, December 6, at the Bellagio Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas, where the latest College Football Hall of Fame class will also be inducted.
The Legacy Award is presented in recognition of individuals and organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to the National Football Foundation and/or embody its mission of Building Leaders Through Football. He serves as a longstanding member of the NFF’s Awards Committee that selects the annual class of National Scholar-Athletes, including the recipient of the Campbell Trophy, also known as the Academic Heisman. He has also assisted in the selection of the Football Foundation’s annual specialty awards and has been involved with the organization’s Divisional Honors Court selections.
“Being named as a recipient of the National Football Foundation’s Legacy Award is an unbelievable honor beyond words,” Burnett said. “It’s been an absolute labor of love to work with the NFF and it’s tremendous efforts to support, promote and grow the game of football.” Burnett will be one of five Legacy Award recipients, joining retiring National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics (NACDA) CEO Bob Vecchione, former Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, former Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner Dr. Dennis Thomas, and current Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson.
"College football relies on a wide range of individuals with a diverse set of talents to ensure the game's future," NFF Chairman Archie Manning said. "Bob Bowlsby, Tom Burnett, Dennis Thomas, Craig Thompson and Bob Vecchione have all been longtime supporters of the NFF and college football, and all four have left a lasting impact on college sports. We are proud to recognize them as ambassadors for the game with NFF Legacy Awards. They have all made the NFF the best it can be."
Previous Legacy Award winners have included former conference commissioners John Swofford (ACC), Tom Hansen (Pac-10), Mike Tranghese (Big East), Mike Slive (C-USA & SEC), Jeff Orleans (Ivy) and Wright Waters (Sun Belt), television executives Burke Magnus (ESPN) and Craig Silver (CBS Sports), and athletic administrators Paul Hoolahan (Sugar Bowl), Rogers Redding (NCAA) and Donnie Duncan (Oklahoma & Big 12).
As former commissioner of the Southland Conference from 2003-22, Burnett originated the recruitment and operation of the successful NCAA FCS National Championship Game, now in its 13th year at Frisco’s Toyota Stadium. Additionally, he established a standard for college football officiating in 2007 by combining the Southland’s oversight efforts with the Big 12 Conference, a first-of-its-kind football administrative consortium that’s followed throughout college football today. He also led the Southland in its implementation of full NCAA instant replay for all home games in 2014, a first for a Division I FCS conference.
"Tom Burnett has been a strong advocate for football and the NFF throughout his long tenure at the Southland Conference," National Football Foundation President/CEO Steve Hatchell said. "He has contributed greatly as a member of the NFF's Awards Committee, selecting the best-of-the-best college football players as NFF National Scholar-Athletes. And his work in getting the FCS Championship Game to Frisco was monumental. We are happy that he continues to support the Southland Conference and the game in a consultant role. We salute him for his amazing run as commissioner."