National Football Foundation &
College Hall of Fame, Inc.
120 chapters in 47 states
President & CEO
|Steven J. Hatchell|
The National Football Foundation (NFF) is a non-profit organization to promote and develop amateur American football on all levels throughout the United States and "developing the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal and the drive for academic excellence in America's young people." It was founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, longtime Army Black Knights football coach Earl Blaik and journalist Grantland Rice.
In addition to supporting amateur football on the local level, the National Football Foundation also oversees the support, administration, and operation of the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The Foundation also tabulated and released the Bowl Championship Series Standings each Fall and hosts an Annual Awards Dinner in December at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
As of 2020[update], Archie Manning, a former Ole Miss Rebels football All-American and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, serves as chairman, and Steven J. Hatchell, the former commissioner of the Big 12 Conference and executive director of the FedEx Orange Bowl, serves as president and CEO. The foundation has 120 local chapters distributed among 47 states. Since 1956, more than 100,000 volunteers have become members.
The NFF was incorporated as the National Football Shrine and Hall of Fame on December 8, 1947 in Syracuse, New York by Arthur Evans and within a year, sportswriter Grantland Rice and Army football coach Earl Blaik joined the board. The NFF was reorganized in 1954 with 11 schools serving as "founding subscribers": Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, Manhattan, Michigan, Navy, Notre Dame, Penn, Princeton, Syracuse, and Yale.
Chet LaRoche became the organization’s first chairman in 1955 and invited General Douglas MacArthur to become chairman of the board in May 1958. Leadership of MacArthur, Blaik, and Rice to the NFF offered credibility and national prominence to the organization.
Among its other programs and initiatives includes the facilitation of the Play It Smart program, which places a trained "academic coach" who turns football teams into learning teams in underserved high schools across the country, and the awarding of the William V. Campbell Trophy, referred to in many circles as the "Academic Heisman". In spring 2007, the NFF launched the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, a recognition program for players who excel both on the field and in the classroom. Inductees must have been a starter in their final collegiate season and have earned a 3.2 cumulative GPA for their undergraduate degree.
The NFF issues a number of awards, including:
Founded in 1959, the award is presented each season to the nation's top scholar-athletes for excellence in academics, athletics and leadership. Each year, between 15 and 17 scholar-athletes are chosen from the NCAA Divisions I (both I-A/FBS and I-AA/FCS), II and III and the NAIA and awarded a $18,000 scholarship. One of the recipients is chosen and awarded the William V. Campbell Trophy (formerly the Draddy Trophy).
Notable former National Scholar-Athletes in the NFL include Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M, 2011) and Joe Thomas (Wisconsin, 2006) and Super Bowl winners Peyton (Tennessee, 1997) and Eli Manning (Mississippi, 2003), Drew Brees (Purdue, 2000), Jonathan Vilma (Miami, 2003) and Dennis Dixon (Oregon, 2007). Non-sporting former recipients include Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actor Mark Harmon (UCLA), NASA astronaut and USAF flight test engineer Michael S. Hopkins (Illinois), former USAF pilot and incumbent Hampden–Sydney College President Christopher B. Howard (U.S. Air Force Academy) and NBC anchor Stone Phillips (Yale).
Main article: National Football Foundation Gold Medal Winners
The Gold Medal, the NFF’s highest honor, has been presented to seven U.S. Presidents, four U.S. Generals, three U.S. Admirals, one U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 25 Corporate CEOs and Chairmen. The most recent recipient of the award was Mark Harmon, in 2019.
Presented on special occasions when a truly deserving individual emerges, the award honors someone who has applied the character building attributes learned from amateur sport in their business and personal life, exhibiting superior leadership qualities in education, amateur athletics, business and in the community. The award was most recently bestowed in 2016, to William H. McRaven.
Main article: MacArthur Bowl
Every year, the National Football Foundation awards the MacArthur Bowl to the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football team determined to be the national champion. The award recipients since 2000 are:
The annual award is given to an athletic director who has demonstrated superior administrative abilities and shown outstanding dedication to college athletics and particularly college football. The award's namesake and first recipient served as the head football coach at the University of Connecticut (UConn) from 1966 to 1970 and as the school's athletic director from 1969 to 1987.
Note: * = posthumously
Named in honor of broadcaster Chris Schenkel, the award is given annually to distinctive individuals in broadcasting with ties to a university.
Main article: FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll
The poll was started in 2014; 10 members of the NFF vote in a poll in partnership with the Football Writers Association of America.
The NFF announced in June that Penn State athletic director Tim Curley was going to accept the award; now that Curley is currently awaiting charges of perjury and failure to report child abuse, the NFF's announcement has been taken offline.