Behind the leadership of Jon Hanson, the emeritus chairman of the National Football Foundation, a total of 1,103 players from 302 schools qualified for membership in 2017, the society’s 11th year, both new single-year records in the history of the program, which began in 2007. The 1,103 players honored in 2017 sets a new high water mark, eclipsing the previous record of 882 honorees in 2016. The 302 schools with members breaks the previous record of 280 in both 2015 and 2016.
“We continue to raise the bar each year for the number of student-athletes who qualify for membership in the Hampshire Honor Society,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “The Hampshire Honor Society plays an important role in highlighting that college football players clearly play a leadership role in the classroom as well as on the playing field. We congratulate each of these young men for their commitment to excellence.”
Designed to highlight football’s unique ability to develop tomorrow’s brightest leaders, The NFF Hampshire Honor Society honors the college football players from all divisions of play who each maintain a 3.2 GPA or better during their collegiate careers. Looking to build on his legacy in promoting the scholar-athlete ideal, Hanson endowed in perpetuity the NFF Hampshire Honor Society through his real estate company, The Hampshire Companies, and its charitable arm, The Hampshire Foundation, in 2007. Since its inception, 7,737 student-athletes have earned membership, including 1,103 in 2017, 882 in 2016, 825 in 2015, 838 in 2014, 711 in 2013, 721 in 2012, 687 in 2011, 620 in 2010, 564 in 2009, 441 in 2008 and 345 in 2007.
“Ever since legendary Army coach Red Blaik provided the first funds for the first National Scholar-Athlete Awards in 1959, the NFF has stood in the vanguard of promoting the scholar-athlete ideal,” said Hanson, the chairman and founder of The Hampshire Companies when he endowed the program. “It’s a great privilege to build on his legacy and endow The NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which greatly increases the number of the college student-athletes that the NFF can recognize each year. Nationwide, there are thousands of football players excelling in the classroom, and they’re going on to be great leaders. The NFF Hampshire Honor Society allows us to shine a light on their hard work.”
As NFF Chairman, Hanson transformed the organization with new procedures for governance and management. His many initiatives included launching Play It Smart, the NFF’s highly successful youth mentoring program for at-risk kids; spearheading an endowment campaign for the NFF’s prestigious National Scholar-Athlete Awards; and instituting the Divisional Hall of Fame program, which provides for induction of coaches and players from the divisional ranks of college football.
“During his 12 years as our chairman, Jon Hanson created a lasting legacy,” said NFF President & CEO Hatchell. “It’s fitting that we are able to honor hundreds of college players each year in his company’s name because he has done so much to educate kids over the past several decades.”
Over the past 50 years, Hanson has built a stellar reputation in the business world. Under his leadership and entrepreneurial spirit, The Hampshire Companies has created a national real estate portfolio of more than $2 billion, and his reputation has earned him positions on numerous boards, including Prudential Financial Corp., Yankee Global Enterprises, CD&L, Pascack Community Bank and as chairman of the board of HealthSouth Corp. In addition, Hanson served as NFF Chairman for 12 years and currently as NFF Chairman Emeritus. In 2005, the NFF honored him with its Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor, for his contributions to our country and college football.