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The National Football Foundation (NFF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army Black Knights football coach Earl "Red" Blaik and journalist Grantland Rice. Its mission is to promote and develop amateur American football on all levels throughout the United States and to cultivate leadership, sportsmanship, enthusiasm for competition, and the drive for academic excellence among America's youth.
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. 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 Draddy Trophy presented by HealthSouth Corporation, referred to in many circles as the "Academic Heisman". In spring 2007, the NFF launched the NFF National 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 Foundation also tabulates and releases the Bowl Championship Series Standings each Fall and hosts an Annual Awards Dinner in December at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
Archie Manning, a former Ole Miss Rebels football All-American and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, serves as the current chairman, and Steven J. Hatchell, the former commissioner of the Big 12 Conference and executive director of the FedEx Orange Bowl, serves as its current president. The foundation has 119 local chapters distributed among 46 states. Since 1956, more than 100,000 volunteers have become members.
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.
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.
Every year, the National Football Foundation awards the MacArthur Trophy to the NCAA Division I-FBS college football team determined to be the national champion.
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.
Note: * = posthumously