|T.J. Davis became one of the first Auburn Tigers to wear the new SEC Graduate patch (photo via Zach Bland)|
Arkansas announced right before the season started that they would be honoring their grad student-athletes with this style patch. It took until this past weekend for the entire conference to adopt the modification.
The new patches are simply an addition to the previous SEC-circle patch that has donned conference team jerseys since 2012. The patch has a simple ribbon along the bottom of the circle with "GRADUATE" written across the middle. It's a minor adjustment, but a big honor.
|Multiple Auburn Tigers, including WR Marcus Davis, were|
seen sporting the new SEC Graduate patch. (photo
via Marcus Davis Instagram)
A few weeks ago we took a look at Auburn's history of conference patches. This is the first time, for the Tigers, that a few players will sport different patches. But this isn't the first time SEC teams have honored graduated athletes.
As mentioned earlier, Arkansas started the season using this approach. I thought at the time that it was a fantastic way to honor the athletes that have completed their degree, and I still stand by that. Alabama has previously put mortar board decals on the back of the helmet for their graduated athletes. The other sports would place the mortar board on the jersey in the form of a patch.
SEC teams have honored their undergrad students as well.
The oldest and most visible style of teams honoring their athletes comes from Tennessee. They're sometimes difficult to spot, but the meaning behind them is often more obscure. The "Vol Scholar" patch is reserved for student-athletes that have achieved a 3.0 or higher GPA. The patch has evolved a little over the years, receiving a minor redesign with the change to Nike in 2015. The design evokes the school's torch tradition, where incoming students meet at Circle Park to "pass the torch." The tradition has taken place every year since 1925.
|Alex Kozan was among the few Auburn players to debut the SEC Graduate patch |
(photo via Todd Van Emst - Opelika-Auburn News)
Signs point to every team adopting this method soon. We'll see next week if the teams that were missing the patch (and of course LSU and Florida) will be wearing them in their next games.