Homer Rice ’51 and Centre parent Seth Hancock to be inducted into Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame
Two people with Centre connections will be inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday, June 7: Seth Hancock, father of Allison Hancock ’14, and Homer Rice ’51.
“Receiving an award from the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame will be an honor. I am being called back to my home state,” Rice says. “I have been inducted into several Hall of Fames, but going back home is the most important to me personally.”
“I’m honored for this,” Hancock said in a recent interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader. “I don’t really understand it, but I’m not gonna argue. I’ll be there with bells on.”
Rice was born in Bellevue, Ky., and attended Fort Thomas Highlands High School and Centre College. He later coached football teams at Highlands High School and was named Coach of the Year nine times. Rice was the head football coach at the University of Cincinnati, at Rice University—where he also served as athletic director—and for the Cincinnati Bengals. He also served as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. Rice went on to serve as athletic director at the University of North Carolina as well as at Georgia Tech, where his tenure lasted 17 years.
Despite his many records, awards and accolades, Rice considers working with students his most lasting endeavor.
“When I am asked what has been my most important achievement in athletics, it is always the development of the Student/Athlete Total Person Program. This is a program to help young people find success in their life goals,” Rice says. “In 1980 I was asked by the NCAA to chair a committee to develop this program for all institutions. We called it Challenging Athletes’ Minds for Personal Success (CHAMPS). I kept the Student/Athlete Total Person Program name at Georgia Tech and over 200 colleges developed some type of program regarding the welfare of student athletes. Both my education at Highlands High School and Centre College were keys to my beginning such a program.
“All in all, I have spent almost a lifetime studying and researching ways to aid young people in their lives,” Rice continues. “At age 85 I am continuing to teach this program, Leadership Fitness, at Georgia Tech.”
Rice acknowledges the late Charles Hazelrigg ’37, former English professor and tennis coach at Centre, as an important part of his career path, and continues to appreciate his alma mater.
“Attending Centre after serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII in the South Pacific, I was fortunate to meet Charlie Hazelrigg. He was a great influence on my career,” Rice says. “Centre has always been special to me, and I am happy to realize its achievement under the leadership of President John Roush. It is always a pleasure to visit with John and Susie when I have the opportunity to be on campus.”
Of his many accomplishments, Rice still considers the people in his life the most important of all.
“I am honored to have had the opportunity to coach, teach and share with the players, students, staff, friends and especially my dear family—they are the ones deserving of this award,” Rice says.
Hancock has owned and managed the world-renowned Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., since 1972. The farm was established in 1910 by Hancock’s grandfather, Arthur B. Hancock, and has been in the Hancock family ever since. Claiborne Farm has won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder twice, in 1979 and 1984. Queen Elizabeth II has visited Claiborne Farm twice in her reign.
Under Hancock’s management, Claiborne Farm won its first Kentucky Derby with Swale in 1984 and the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Blame in 2010. Early in his career at Claiborne, Hancock was approached by the owner of soon-to-be Triple Crown winner Secretariat and asked to sell shares in syndication of the horse’s breeding rights. Hancock oversaw the $6-million syndication, and acknowledges that it not only changed his career, but the entire horseracing industry.
“[Secretariat] made me, because people thought I knew what I was doing, that I was smart,” Hancock said to the Herald-Leader. “Really, I was lucky. … [Investors] gave the kid a chance, and the first time up, he closed his eyes and hit a tape-measure home run.”
With the many successes Hancock has overseen at Claiborne Farms, he is still able to pick out a horse that meant the most to him: Forty Niner, who placed second in the 1988 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
“If you ask me who was my favorite horse of all times, I’d tell you it was him,” Hancock said to the Herald-Leader.