ON officials rub elbows with college basketball greats

Eight Osage Nation officials and a family member attended the inaugural 2011 Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Awards held at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City April 11.

The event, sponsored by Devon Energy, Access Sports and the United States Basketball Writers Association, honors the late Tisdale while recognizing an outstanding men’s NCAA Division 1 freshman basketball player, which was Jared Sullinger of Ohio State. Also being honored at the awards ceremony was famous announcer Dick Vitale, who received the inaugural Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award.

Tisdale was a three-time All-American basketball player at the University of Oklahoma. Following a stint on the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team, he played 12 seasons in the NBA before retiring in 1997 to focus on a full-time jazz music career, according to a prepared release.

“Diaper Dandy”

At $1,000 a plate, the Chief’s Office and the Million Dollar Elm split the $10,000 “Diaper Dandy” sponsorship that bought them 10 tickets to the awards dinner, a premium reserved table location, 10 tickets to the Tisdale VIP reception prior to the awards dinner, five signed copies of Dick Vitale’s latest book, recognition during the awards dinner program and recognition in all event printed materials, according to

The phrase “Diaper Dandy” was made famous by Vitale when he used it to describe college freshman basketball talent.

Attending the event from the Chief’s Office was Chief John Red Eagle and Assistant Chief Scott BigHorse. From the Osage Nation Congress were Congressmen Anthony Shackelford, Eddy Red Eagle and Congresswoman Shannon Edwards. From the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board were Chairman Frank Oberly and Aaron Bighorse. Also attending was Million Dollar Elm CEO Neil Cornelius and Oberly’s teenage son. The tenth plate was empty.

Congressman Anthony Shackelford said the purpose of the trip was to show support for the Tisdale Foundation in hopes that the foundation will consider bringing the awards to Tulsa and hosting it annually at the Osage Event Center. If this were to occur he said the Nation could erect a statue of Tisdale near the north Tulsa MDE casino in hopes of boosting casino profits.

Shackelford also said that the MDE is in talks with former OU football star Billy Simms to put one of his successful barbeque restaurants in the north Tulsa MDE casino. Currently there is not a Billy Simms Barbeque restaurant in north Tulsa. However, Cornelius said it is just a concept at this time and the MDE hasn’t actively pursued Simms yet.

“This would be a great opportunity for us to get in on the ground floor of a national award that will go on during our kids lifetimes,” Shackelford said. “I think it’s going to be nothing but positive comment on us for this.”

According to a prepared release by Devon Energy, the Tisdale awards will be held annually, beginning at the NCAA Final Four tournament. Following the tournament, the Tisdale awards will be hosted at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

A good idea

Cornelius said the idea of obtaining the Tisdale awards ceremony is new to him but he’s not opposed to the concept. In fact, he loves the idea but the MDE would need to upgrade the event center to host an awards ceremony of that caliber.

“We would like to expand and put together a whole operation here that makes sense in the future,” Cornelius said. In terms of attending the Tisdale fundraiser, he said, “It was very nice to be apart of a very positive event, very upbeat, I think that for future consideration that was a great event. It definitely drew out a lot of high profile people.”

Congressman Anthony Shackelford posted his thoughts about the awards on his Facebook page after the event.

“Heading down the Turnpike after an “Awesome baby” Wayman Tisdale Freshman of The Year Awards Banquet in OKC! Chatted with Barry Switzer, Billy Tubbs, Dick Vitale, Fran Fraschilla, Toby Keith, Scott Hill, Thad Motta, Jared Sullinger and Blake Griffins parents! An Amazing night of PR networking for The Osage Nation!!!”

The Chief’s Office did not return comment by the time this story was published.


The Skirvin Hilton Oklahoma City
One Park Avenue
Oklahoma CityOK
United States