May 2, 2012
The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today that six Rice Owls are among a record group of 721 players who have been named members of the 2012 NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college career.
Justin Allen, Travis Bradshaw, John Gioffre, Jake Hicks, Matt Nordstrom and Scott Solomon combined to give the Owls their largest class of honorees since the program was first created in 2007.
Rice produced six of the eight honorees from Conference USA, joining SMU's Kelvin Beachum and Austin Davis of Southern Miss. The Owls' total of six honorees represented nearly half of the total of players honored from FBS schools in Texas (Baylor and Texas 2: SMU, TCU and Texas A&M 1).
"The growing number of students involved in the Hampshire Honor Society each year shows that football student-athletes not only play at the highest level but that they are some of the best students on campus as well," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "We salute each one of these young men for their commitment to education and their leadership on and off the football field."
The NFF Hampshire Honor Society capitalizes on the NFF's current National Scholar-Athlete program greatly expanding the number of scholar-athletes the NFF can recognize each year. The program further strengthens the organization's leadership role in encouraging academic performance by the student-athletes who play football at the more than 700 college and universities with football programs nationwide. Jon F. Hanson, the chairman and founder of The Hampshire Companies, provided the endowment to launch the NFF Hampshire Honor Society in 2007. He made the contribution as part of his legacy to the organization after serving as NFF chairman from 1994-2006. He currently serves the organization as a chairman emeritus. Each player awarded with membership in this year's Honor Society will receive a certificate commemorating their achievement.
"Thanks to the generosity of Jon Hanson, we have honored more than 3,000 student-athletes in the last six years," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, "The Hampshire Honor Society allows us to showcase how much football matters in building tomorrow's leaders, and we strongly encourage every football-playing school in the country to get involved."
Qualifications for membership in the NFF Hampshire Honor Society include:
- Being a starter or a significant substitute in one's last year of eligibility at an accredited NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III, or an NAIA college or university;
- Achieving a 3.2 cumulative grade point average throughout entire course of undergraduate study; and
- Meeting all NCAA-mandated progress towards degree requirements and graduation.
The Hampshire Honor Society represents a powerful component in the organization's rich history as an innovator in promoting the scholar-athlete ideal. Launched in 1959 with a donation from Hall of Fame coach Earl "Red" Blaik, the NFF's National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, became the first initiative in history to grant postgraduate scholarships based on a player's combined academic success, football performance and community leadership. And, since its inception, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program has awarded $9.8 million to 756 top scholars and community leaders.
Currently, the NFF distributes more than $300,000 a year at the national level through the program to 16 individuals. Each winner of a National Scholar-Athlete Award receives an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. Additionally, the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, is given to one member of each year's class as the absolute best. The winner of the Campbell Trophy, claimed by Army linebacker Andrew Rodriguez in 2011, receives a total scholarship of $25,000 and a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy. Through, its chapter network, the NFF also awards an additional $1 million to local high school student-athletes, bringing the NFF's annual scholarship distribution total to more than $1.3 million.