• Sgt. York Trophy Background/History
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - Saturday will mark the beginning of the 11th year of the Sergeant York Trophy presented by Delta Dental of Tennessee in the Ohio Valley Conference as Tennessee State travels to UT Martin for the OVC Game of the Week on ESPN3.
This season marks the fourth that Delta Dental of Tennessee has been the presenting sponsor of the trophy.
The Sgt. York Trophy goes to the winner of the quadrangular season series between the four OVC football playing schools located in the state of Tennessee - Austin Peay State University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University and the University of Tennessee at Martin.
The award is only the second traveling trophy that involves more than two teams in college sports; the other is the Commander in Chief's Trophy which has been contested between Air Force, Army and Navy annually since 1972. The award, created in 2007 by the Nashville Sports Council, is presented to the winning institution annually at the NSC's Celebration of Champions. The event was created in 1999 and salutes amateur and professional sports in Tennessee.
After the completion of the football season, the Sgt. York Trophy is awarded to the institution with the best head-to-head record in the match-ups with their fellow Tennessee schools. In the event of a tie, the award will be shared; however, the previous winner will retain the trophy if they are part of the tie. If the tie is between two other institutions, the trophy will go to the institution that has gone the most seasons without winning the trophy.
Tennessee State and Austin Peay tied for the trophy in 2007 with TSU taking it back to campus due to a victory in the head-to-head matchup. The Tigers repeated as champions in 2008 before Tennessee Tech claimed is first trophy in 2009. In 2010 UT Martin went 3-0 to claim its first Sgt. York title. In 2011 Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech finished with 2-1 records and were declared co-champions; however, TSU took home the actual trophy since they had gone the most seasons without winning it (2008, compared to 2009 for TTU). In 2012 TSU shared the title with UT Martin and once again took home the trophy due to the tiebreaker. In 2013 Tennessee State made it three titles in a row by finishing a perfect 3-0 in the series. UT Martin was perfect in the series in claiming the championship in 2014 and 2015. A year ago UT Martin, Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State shared the championship with identical 2-1 records but UTM retained the trophy due to tiebreakers.
UT Martin's 21-9 record all-time in Sgt. York games is the best mark of the four schools while Tennessee State's five titles are the most of any team.
The award is named in honor of Alvin C. York, the most noted Soldier of World War I. As a corporal in the 2nd battalion, 328th Infantry, in the Battle of the Meuse River-Argonne (Oct. 8, 1918), York and seven other soldiers captured 132 prisoners, was promoted to sergeant and received the Distinguished Service Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, the French Legion of Honor, the Croce di Guerra of Italy and the War Medal of Montenegro. Upon his return to the United States in 1919, he was bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Following the war York returned his home in Pall Mall, Tennessee (located in north central Tennessee, 55 miles northeast of Cookeville) where he dedicated his life to improving education and facilitating educational opportunities for children in the state of Tennessee. In 1927 he established the Alvin C. York Institute after spending several years raising money for the school which opened as a private institution. That school was established, in part, to provide educational opportunities denied to the boys and girls of Fentress Country. In 1937, the Institute became a state special school after an appeal to the Tennessee State Legislature. The school, located in Jamestown, Tenn., is still in operation today.
York died on Sept. 2, 1964 and the foundation which he helped establish in 1920 - The Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation - was dormant for many years. The Foundation was re-established by Lipscomb Davis, Jr. in 1992 and is currently run by Sgt. York's grandson Gerald (U.S. Army Colonel, Retired). York's papers are archived by Michael E. Birdwell, Ph.D., who is an associate professor of history at Tennessee Technological University, one of the four institutions that will compete for the yearly honor.
2017 Sgt. York Trophy Games Schedule
Sept. 23 - Tennessee State at UT Martin
Sept. 30 - UT Martin at Austin Peay
Oct. 14 - Austin Peay at Tennessee State
Oct. 28 - Tennessee State at Tennessee Tech
Nov. 4 - Austin Peay at Tennessee Tech
Nov. 18 - UT Martin at Tennessee Tech