Sept. 7, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Three former University of Alabama standout athletes -- including the oldest, living UA football player -- were honored for their civic accomplishments as recipients of the 2008 Paul W. Bryant Alumni-Athlete Award.
This year's Bryant Alumni-Athlete Award winners are former UA gymnast Barbara Mack Harding, and former football players George "Duke" McCain Jr. and Ben W. McLeod Jr.
The awards were presented Saturday, Sept. 6 during halftime of the Alabama vs. Tulane football game in Tuscaloosa. The prestigious award, presented by the UA National Alumni Association, recognizes former athletes whose accomplishments since leaving the University are outstanding based on character, contributions to society, professional achievement and service.
At age 95, Ben W. McLeod Jr. is the oldest, living former Crimson Tide football player.
McLeod came to UA in 1932 on a basketball scholarship and in his career at the University he played on three SEC Championship-winning basketball and baseball teams.
Despite his enormous success in basketball and baseball, McLeod says his proudest memories are with the 1934 National Championship Crimson Tide football team where he played with football greats such as Paul "Bear" Bryant, Don Hutson and Dixie Howell.
By the time McLeod finished his career at the University he had earned eight varsity letters -- three in basketball, three in baseball and two in football.
Upon graduation from UA, McLeod accepted a coaching position at T.R. Miller High School in Brewton where he coached football, basketball and baseball. McLeod also spent his summers playing semi-pro baseball in Alabama and North Carolina.
In late 1941, McLeod joined the Navy and was stationed in Pensacola, Fla. He served eight years of active duty and another 20 years in the Navy Reserves where he continued his love of the game serving as Athletic Director at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. He retired from the Navy as a full commander in 1972 and still lives in Pensacola.
Barbara Mack Harding helped the Tide reach gymnastics history leading the team to its first ever NCAA National Championship appearance as well as three straight regional team titles during her tenure at the Capstone.
Harding, an All-American two-time individual NCAA regional champion, was a Rhodes Scholar finalist and the inaugural winner of the Paul W. Bryant Scholar-Athlete Award.
Upon her graduation from UA in 1985, Harding earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship which helped her obtain a law degree from Georgetown University Law School. After graduation from Georgetown in 1988, Harding began her career at Williams and Connelly law firm in Washington, D.C. In 1991, she joined the U.S. Justice Department as a prosecutor in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Department.
In 1994, Harding became a partner with the Kirkland and Ellis law firm and in 1995 she became the Deputy Director of the White House Security Review. Harding returned to Kirkland and Ellis in 1996 and has built a successful career there.
Barbara and her husband, David, have three children, Matthew, David and Catherine.
George "Duke" McCain Jr. came to the University on a football scholarship where he played halfback under Head Coach Red Drew and lettered in 1950 and 1951.
A member of Sigma Nu fraternity, McCain graduated from UA in 1952 with a degree from the College of Commerce and Business Administration.
McCain left the University to serve for two years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force at the Arctic Air Force base in Thule, Greenland.
McCain then returned to the Capstone and enrolled in UA's School of Law and received his first law degree in 1956. McCain served as a member of the school's board of editors and president of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.
After he earned a second law degree in taxation law from New York University School of Law in 1958, McCain moved to Mobile to work at the law firm of Ambrecht, Jackson and DeMouy. During his time in Mobile, McCain helped Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant in his scouting efforts in south Alabama.
McCain soon gained the reputation as one of the top international tax experts in the U.S. while working in the New York City home office of Mobil Oil Corp.
He retired from law in 1989 while working in Houston as a senior partner of the Deaton, Briggs and McCain law firm. McCain currently resides in Houston and is retired.
Past recipients of the Bryant Alumni-Athlete Award include: John Croyle, Young Boozer, Charlie Boswell, Fred Sington, Hoyt "Wu" Winslett, Holt Rast, Tom Rast, Bart Starr, Bud Moore, Ozzie Newsome, Jerry Duncan, Dwight Stephenson, Lee Roy Jordan, Joe Kelley, Wendell Hudson, Dr. Andrew Burch, Jack McKewen, Harry Lee, I. L. "Pat" O'Sullivan Jr., Harry Gilmer, Don Salls, Jeremiah Castille, William E. Sexton, Bill Battle, Noah Langdale Jr., James D. "Jim" Loftin Sr., Bobby Luna, Mal Moore, Clem Gryska and Cecil "Hootie" Ingram.