Cecil Hurt, longtime Tuscaloosa News sports editor and columnist, dies at 62
Cecil Hurt, longtime sports columnist at The Tuscaloosa News, died Tuesday at UAB Hospital in Birmingham from complications from pneumonia.
Hurt, 62, joined The Tuscaloosa News in 1982 as a sports writer and seven years later became the newspaper’s sports editor and columnist.
"In pro football, teams put a 'franchise' tag on their most valuable players, and at The Tuscaloosa News, Cecil was the franchise,” said Ken Roberts, city editor of The Tuscaloosa News. “Our readers considered his column an essential part of being an Alabama football fan.
"I've attended Alabama football games for more than 30 years and many, many times I've overheard a fan in stands saying, 'I wonder what Cecil Hurt will say about this.' I think that shows the power of his skills as a writer.
"The University of Alabama has that slogan, 'Where Legends Are Made," and whenever I see that I think, 'The only legend I've known personally is Cecil Hurt.’
"We've lost a truly unique voice and we will miss Cecil as a consummate professional and, most importantly, as a person."
A statement was released on behalf of Hurt's family.
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"Cecil passed peacefully while surrounded by family and a close friend," it said. "Please keep Cecil's family in your prayers as they cope with his passing.
"His family sincerely appreciates the outpouring of support shown to Cecil throughout this process. They would also like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at UAB ICU for the exemplary care and compassion they provided to Cecil and his family."
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.
A 1981 graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in English and a minor in psychology, Hurt was born in Tuscaloosa and grew up in Huntsville and graduated from Butler High School. At UA, he worked as a student assistant in the sports information office during the latter years Paul W. “Bear” Bryant’s coaching career. His father played football at Alabama and was a coach and special education teacher in Tuscaloosa and Madison counties.
During his career at The Tuscaloosa News, he covered Alabama football, basketball, baseball and other sports. He was part of The Tuscaloosa News team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 2011 tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas.
In 2019, he received the Mel Allen Media Award from the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. He was named the National Sports Media Association’s Alabama Sportswriter of the Year in 2016 and ’19. He won more than a dozen top 10 national awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors in categories including column writing, breaking news and project reporting, and received numerous state honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association, Alabama Press Association and Associated Press Managing Editors.
He was also honored several times with national awards for his column writing by the Associated Press Sports Editors, as well as for breaking news reporting and project reporting.
Hurt is survived by his mother Carol Messina of Sugar Hill, Georgia; brother Cary Hurt and his wife Aimee of Huntsville; and sister Caren Hidgon and husband Ray of Cumming, Georgia.
The Tuscaloosa News invites its readers to share their remembrances of Cecil Hurt and his impact on them through his words and their interactions with him, whether in person or on social media. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.