Jan. 6, 2011
DALLAS, Texas – Florida State coaching legend Bobby Bowden received a prestigious honor today when the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced that NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) and its chairman and co-founder, Phil Knight, have endowed in perpetuity one of the coveted NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards in his honor.
“Connecting the names of Bobby Bowden, Phil Knight and NIKE to the NFF National Scholar-Athlete program sends a powerful message about the stature of these awards,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. “Their names and more importantly the stories behind their accomplishments will be an inspiration to the future scholar-athletes who will benefit from this endowment for many years to come. I want to thank NIKE and Phil Knight for their leadership in support of our mission to promote the scholar-athlete ideal.”
The NFF Bobby Bowden Scholar-Athlete Award, endowed by Phil Knight and NIKE, will be presented each year at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in December. The NFF currently distributes $300,000 to its national scholar-athletes each year at the event. From the hundreds of nominations, the NFF selects 16 of the nation’s top student-athletes for recognition and an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. Since its inception, the program has distributed $9.5 million to 740 outstanding individuals who have used the funds to enhance their careers in medicine, law, business, engineering, education, social work, the military, and government.
“The recipients of these awards are the ultimate ambassadors for our sport, and they stand as a powerful testament to the ability of college football to shape our country’s greatest leaders,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton and Eli both claimed the honor in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “I applaud the vision of Phil Knight and NIKE in linking the Bobby Bowden name to this award as it creates a fitting tribute to his remarkable coaching career and the enormous influence that he had on the lives of countless young men.”
The relationship between Knight and Bowden spans many years, and the two men maintain close ties with a deep mutual respect for each other and their respective leadership abilities. Both men have claimed the NFF Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor, in recognition of their significant career achievements and for demonstrating integrity, honesty, and the core values of college football.
Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006, Bobby Bowden coached eight NFF National Scholar-Athletes at Florida State, including Kenneth Alexander (1993); Derrick Brooks (1994); Danny Kanell (1995); Daryl Bush (1997); Chris Weinke (2000); Chris Hope (2001); Jose David Castillo (2005); and Christian Ponder (2010). Bowden began his head coaching career at Samford and West Virginia before embarking on a remarkable 34 seasons at Florida State that saw him become the only coach in history to lead his team to a top five finish in the Associated Press ranking for an amazing 14 straight seasons. With two national titles (1993, 1999) to his credit, Bowden sits in second place for most wins by a coach in major college football history with an all-time record of 377-129-4 or an astounding .743 win percentage.
A native of Portland, Knight ran track in high school and joined the cross country and track teams after enrolling at Oregon in 1955. Coached by Bill Bowerman, he lettered three years for the Ducks. Knight graduated in 1959 with a degree in business and joined the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lieutenant. Following one year of active duty, he enrolled in Stanford University and received his M.B.A in 1962. While at Stanford, he conceived of the idea for a shoe company, and in 1964, he and Bowerman, with $500 investment each, launched what would eventually become NIKE, Inc. with a recent value of more than $39 billion. Knight served as CEO of the company until he stepped down in 2004, retaining the title of chairman of the board. Extremely active with both his alma maters, he has donated more than $250 million to Oregon and Stanford.
Candidates for the NFF Bobby Bowden Scholar-Athlete Award, endowed by Phil Knight and NIKE, must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The winner receives an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and becomes a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class. Each member of the NFF Scholar-Athlete Class is flown to New York City, and they are recognized during The NFF’s Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria. Each recipient of an NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award automatically becomes a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which selects one member of the class as the absolute best in the nation.
Past Scholar-Athletes have made it big in a variety of fields, including Yale’s Stone Phillips, former co-anchor of NBC’s “Dateline”; UCLA’s Mark Harmon, an actor and film producer; Southern California’s Pat Haden, the athletics director at Southern California; Richmond’s Leland Melvin, a NASA astronaut; and Georgia’s Billy Payne, the chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club. Still others were so outstanding on the field that they went on to great NFL careers – players such as Tiki Barber, Derrick Brooks, Doug Flutie, Randy Gradishar, Tim Green, Brian Griese, Jeff Hostetler, Carnell Lake, Peyton Manning, Johnny Musso, Merlin Olsen, Lee Roy Selmon, Danny Wuerffel, and Steve Young.