Kai Kroeger Named Campbell Trophy Semifinalist
University of South Carolina senior punter Kai Kroeger is one of 201 semifinalists for the 2023 William V. Campbell Trophy®, college football’s premier scholar-athlete award.
Celebrating its 34th 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.
Kroeger, a 6-4, 212-pounder from Lake Forest, Ill., earned All-SEC and All-America honors in 2022. He was recognized as the 2022-2023 co-winner of The President’s Outstanding Student-Athlete Award at the Gamecock Gala in April. Kroeger is a history major with a 3.354 GPA and is on track to graduate in the spring of 2024. He has represented football on SAAC for the past two years and is the 2023 South Carolina representative on the SEC Football Council.
“These 201 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. “During the past seven decades, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards have recognized 906 college football players who excelled as the best our great sport has to offer. This year’s semifinalists build on the tradition, further illustrating the power of football to develop the next generation of influential leaders.”
The NFF will announce 12-14 finalists on Oct. 25, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2023 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments. The finalists will travel to the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas for the 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas on Dec. 5, 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 34th Campbell Trophy® and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000. Click here for more information on the Awards Dinner, including options to purchase tickets online, special travel rates to the event from Delta Air Lines and room rates at the ARIA.
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 65th year in 2023. 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 906 outstanding individuals since the program’s inception. This year’s postgraduate scholarships will push the program’s all-time distribution to more than $12.6 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 eight 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 storied venue.
Known as “The Coach of Silicon Valley,” Campbell became one of our country’s most influential business leaders, playing critical roles in the success of Apple, Google, Intuit and countless other high-tech companies. The captain of the 1961 Columbia Ivy League championship team, he found his true calling after an unlikely career change at age 39 from 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.
Later in life, Campbell was driven by a heartfelt desire to give back, and he quietly gave away tens of millions of dollars to multiple charities while also finding an hour and half each autumn weekday to coach an eighth-grade boys and girls flag-football team near his home in Palo Alto, California. Campbell passed away April 18, 2016, at the age of 75.
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 168 FARs since the program’s inception, and Fidelity has made a total of $830,000 in donations.