UTSA recognized for excellence in promoting scholar-athlete ideal

Gregg MIchel
Eric Soza

UTSA Associate Professor Gregg Michel (top) and graduate student Eric Soza

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(May 2, 2014) -- As part of the National Football Foundation Faculty Salutes Initiative sponsored by Fidelity Investments, the NFF presented Gregg Michel, UTSA associate professor and faculty athletics representative, a commemorative plaque and a $5,000 gift for UTSA.

UTSA and Michel are being recognized for their efforts in fostering excellence among student-athletes as exemplified by 2013 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Eric Soza. The presentation was April 30 during UTSA's Annual All-Sports Banquet.

"Gregg Michel has been a critical liaison between academics and athletics at UTSA," said Steve Hatchell, NFF president and CEO. "We are proud to join with Fidelity Investments in highlighting his role in ensuring that the student-athletes at UTSA have an educational experience that prepares them for success long after their playing days in San Antonio."

In 2011, the NFF announced in partnership with Fidelity Investments, a leading provider of not-for-profit workplace retirement savings plans in higher education, that it was expanding its NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program to recognize the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives at each of the 16 schools with a member of the annual NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class. As part of the initiative, the NFF presents each of the faculty representatives with a commemorative plaque and $5,000 from Fidelity Investments to augment academic support services for student-athletes at each school.

"The faculty athletics representative position, fulfilled at UTSA by Gregg Michel, is crucial to our athletics department, as he ensures academic integrity and looks out for the welfare of our student-athletes by monitoring the delicate balance of academics and athletics," said Lynn Hickey, UTSA director of athletics. "We appreciate the National Football Foundation and Fidelity Investments honoring scholar-athletes and recognizing the importance of the faculty athletics representative position on a national platform."

A professor at UTSA since 2000, Michel became the chair of the Department of History in 2010. Serving as UTSA's faculty athletics representative since 2007, he works to support the academic progress and success of UTSA's student-athletes and helps monitor compliance with NCAA rules and regulations.

Michel has served the university in a variety of capacities including as chair of the Athletics Council and a member of the Core Curriculum Assessment Committee. He received his bachelor's degree in history from the University of Chicago and his master's and doctorate in history from the University of Virginia.

UTSA was represented in the 2013 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class by Eric Soza, who maintained a 3.96 GPA in physical education while becoming the undisputed leader of a start-up football program in only its third year of existence.

A 2013 Academic All-District and C-USA All-Academic selection, Soza graduated summa cum laude in May 2013, and currently is enrolled in the UTSA master's program in higher education administration. A three-year team captain, he started every game of his UTSA career and finished with 574 completions for 6,952 yards and 46 touchdowns. A member of the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, Soza received the Fall 2013 Conference USA Spirit of Service Award, and he volunteers with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Special Olympics and the Wounded Warrior Project.

The NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards presented by Fidelity Investments were established in 1959 as the first initiative in history to honor scholar-athletes with post-graduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. The program provides each member of the class with an $18,000 scholarship, distributing a total of $300,000 each year to the nation's top scholar-athletes. In 2011, Fidelity Investments became the first official sponsor in the 56-year history of the program, which has awarded more than $10.4 million to 787 individuals since its inception.

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About Fidelity Investments

Fidelity Investments is one of the world's largest providers of financial services with assets under administration of $4.7 trillion including managed assets of $2 trillion as of March 31, 2014. Founded in 1946, the firm is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing and many other financial products and services to more than 20 million individuals and institutions, as well as through 5,000 financial intermediary firms.

About the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame

Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and renowned journalist Grantland Rice, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a nonprofit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people.

With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame, the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF Showcases, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF Faculty Salute Initiative presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes.

The NFF also presents the William V. Campbell Trophy endowed by HealthSouth and hosted at the New York Athletic Club as well as bestowing several other major awards at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City. NFF corporate partners include the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Sports Business Journal and Under Armour.