Professional News

Tom Hammond receives UK Founders Day Award

Tom Hammond (left) with UK President Eli Capilouto. Hammond was awarded the 2023 University of Kentucky Founders Day Award at a ceremony in his honor on Feb. 22, 2023. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24. 2023) — Tom Hammond, a 1967 graduate of the University of Kentucky, recently retired after a 50-year career in sports broadcasting that spanned across the Commonwealth of Kentucky and around the world. His dedication and success was recognized Wednesday when he was awarded the 2023 University of Kentucky Founders Day Award at a ceremony in his honor.

"On UK's 158th birthday, we have the privilege to celebrate an individual who has left an indelible mark on our university; someone who personifies goodwill and demonstrates — through their work and their spirit — a dedication to our Commonwealth," said UK President Eli Capilouto as he presented the award. "I want to congratulate Tom Hammond for this incredible and well-deserved honor. The university is proud to have someone like Tom who represents the best of what this place has to offer — a brighter, more hopeful future with citizens who leave their communities better than they found them."

Recognized as one of the leading TV sports broadcasters in the U.S., Hammond’s career included covering college and NBA basketball games, college and NFL football games, thoroughbred horse racing and the Olympic Games. Hammond credits his UK education for his success and has been inducted into the UK Alumni Association’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni; the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Hall of Fame; the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame; and is a UK honorary doctorate recipient.

“I have been very fortunate to have traveled all over the world to do some of the best sporting events on the planet, but one of the constants was when you return home and your plane is on final approach and look out that window and you see Calumet Farm. And you know you are coming home. That’s always one of the best parts of any trip you take,” said Hammond during his acceptance speech. “The honors you get from home, and from the home folks that know you best, are the best honors. That’s why this one means so much to me.”

Hammond received a Founders Day Award medallion and a one-time monetary donation of $10,000 to be made in his name to an existing university philanthropic fund of their choice. Hammond plans to direct the donation toward the Tom Hammond Equine Scholarship in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Two $5,000 scholarships will be awarded in Fall 2023 to students majoring in equine science and management with a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrated unmet financial need.

The Founders Day Award had not been given since 1958 and was reinstated last year in dedication to D. Michael Richey in recognition of his career as UK’s vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement. Since the award was reinstated in 2022, the executive director of the UK Alumni Association appoints a committee to review nominations and select a recipient each year.

“Founders Day is a special tradition at UK as we not only take time to reflect on our university’s history, but also celebrate how far we have come by recognizing those that have made an impact in the Commonwealth” said Jill Smith, associate vice president for alumni engagement and executive director of the UK Alumni Association. “With more than 280,000 alumni around the world, it’s a privilege to recognize Tom as one of our most influential and impactful graduates through this award.”

To learn more about the Founders Day Award, visit

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.