Eason-Riddle Named Campbell Trophy® Semifinalist
Linebacker Nominated for College Football’s Premier Scholar-Athlete Award
University of South Carolina senior linebacker Spencer Eason-Riddle has been named a semifinalist for the 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy®, college football’s premier scholar-athlete award, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today.
Celebrating its 32nd year, the Campbell Trophy® recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership. The impressive list of 176 candidates for the award boasts an impressive 3.66 average GPA, with more than two-thirds of the semifinalists having already earned their bachelor’s degrees.
Eason-Riddle, a 6-0, 230-pounder from Raleigh, N.C., owns two degrees from the University. He graduated in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in public health and earned his master’s degree in health services policy and management in May 2021.
“These 176 impressive candidates truly represent the scholar-athlete ideal,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell Trophy® winner) and Eli were named NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “For more than 60 years, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards have honored more than 800 college football players who have been successful on the football field, in the classroom and as leaders in the community. And we are excited to celebrate the 32nd year of the Campbell Trophy®, which honors the best of the best. This year’s semifinalists further illustrate the power of our great sport in developing the next generation of influential leaders.”
The NFF will announce 12-14 finalists on Oct. 27, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2021 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments. The finalists will travel to the ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas for the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas on Dec. 7, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. Live during the event, one member of the class will be declared as the winner of the 32nd Campbell Trophy® and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.
“The NFF would like to personally congratulate each of the nominees as well as their schools and coaches on their tremendous accomplishments,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “We are extremely proud to highlight each semifinalist’s achievements, showcasing their ability to balance academics and athletics at the highest level. The NFF Awards Committee will have an incredibly difficult task in selecting the finalists from this outstanding group of candidates.”
Launched in 1959, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards Presented by Fidelity Investments celebrate their 63rd year in 2021. The awards were the first initiative in history to grant postgraduate scholarships based on both a player’s academic and athletic accomplishments, and the NFF has recognized 878 outstanding individuals since the program’s inception. This year’s postgraduate scholarships will push the program’s all-time distribution to more than $12.1 million.
The Campbell Trophy® was first awarded in 1990, adding to the program’s prestige. Past recipients include two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, two Heisman Trophy winners and seven first-round NFL draft picks. Named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, the trophy has been prominently displayed inside its official home at the New York Athletic Club since 2013, and the winner is honored each year during a special luncheon at the venue.
An All-Ivy League player and the captain of Columbia’s 1961 Ivy League championship team, Bill Campbell found his true calling after an unlikely career change at age 39 from Columbia football coach to advertising executive. His ability to recruit, develop and manage talented executives – all lessons learned on the gridiron – proved to be a critical component of his ability to inspire his business teams to the highest levels of success.
As the CEO and chairman of Intuit, Campbell’s unique talent in building teams earned him the affectionate title of the “Coach of Silicon Valley,” and he used the lessons of the gridiron to mentor Steve Jobs of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Sundar Pichai and Eric Schmidt of Google, Scott Cook and Brad Smith of Intuit, John Doerr of Kleiner-Perkins, Dick Costolo at Twitter, Diane Greene of VMWare and countless others.
Campbell joined the NFF Board in 1978 while he was still a coach at Columbia, and he continued to serve with distinction until his passing in 2016. In 2004, the NFF recognized Campbell’s contributions and accomplishments by presenting him with the NFF Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor. In 2009, the NFF renamed college football’s premier scholar-athlete award as The William V. Campbell Trophy® in his honor.
As part of its support of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, Fidelity Investments helped launch the NFF Faculty Salutes, which recognize the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives at each of the institutions with a finalist for the Campbell Trophy®. Once the finalists are selected, the NFF will present each of their faculty athletics representatives with a plaque and Fidelity will donate $5,000 for the academic support services at each school. The salutes have recognized 139 FARs since the program’s inception, and Fidelity has made a total of $690,000 in donations.