Toby Keith To Receive Posthumous Honorary Degree From The University of Oklahoma

Keith was a longtime OU sports fan and donor.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

April 24, 2024


7:39 pm

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Toby Keith; Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Thunder USA

The late country music icon Toby Keith will soon receive an honorary degree from the University of Oklahoma

Keith will be awarded the degree posthumously during the 2024 commencement at a ceremony held at Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, May 11 at 9 am. 

Keith is one of four distinguished figures set to receive honorary degrees from the institution. The others include Barbara Ann Posey Jones, an educator, economist, and activist, Tom E. Love, founder of Love’s Travel Stops, and David Proctor, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 spacecraft missions. 

“Through their exceptional talents, transformative leadership and unwavering commitment to serving others, each of this year’s Honorary Degree recipients has left an indelible mark on the world,” OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. shared in a statement. “Their profound dedication has touched countless lives, and we take great pride in conferring the university’s highest honor upon them.”

Keith, an Oklahoma native, was also honored by the university earlier this week when the Sooners returned to the football field for the annual OU Red-White Spring Game. Near the 20th-yard line, Toby’s name was painted in red and white on the field and his silhouette was engrained inside the O of Toby.   

The official Oklahoma Football account shared a photo of the on-field tribute and sweetly wrote, “Honoring an Oklahoma legend. We love you and miss you every day, TK” within the caption. 

Along with his wife, Tricia, Toby Keith was a longtime supporter of OU Athletics and often attended football games with his family and also made significant donations. 

At the 2024 CMT Music Awards earlier this month, the life and career of the “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” singer were commemorated through musical tributes performed by Lainey Wilson, Brooks & Dunn, and Sammy Hagar. Keith’s children, Krystal Sandubrae, Shelley Covel, and Stelen Covel, watched tearfully from the audience.

Krystal Sandubrae, Shelley Covel, Stelen Covel; Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CMT
Krystal Sandubrae, Shelley Covel, Stelen Covel; Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CMT

Toby Keith passed away on Monday, February 5 following a battle with stomach cancer. He was just 62 years old. Keith’s death shook his friends and peers and in the hours, days, and weeks following his passing, many honored him through song and/or heartfelt social media posts. 

Weeks after his death, the Country Music Hall of Fame announced that Keith was included among the 2024 class of Country Music Hall of Fame inductees. He will be inducted into the Modern Era Artist category alongside James Burton (Recording and/or Touring Musician category) and John Anderson (Veterans Era Artist category). 

Keith’s son, Stelen, was on hand at the announcement to speak on his family’s behalf. 

“Thank you all. On behalf of my whole family, we want to thank the Hall of Fame. It’s an honor to stand here and represent my father. He’s an amazing man, husband, father, and an artist, and I just want to thank everybody for being here,” he emotionally shared. 

A formal induction ceremony for Burton, Anderson, and Keith will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the CMA Theater this October.

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.