Nebraska recognized for fostering excellence in student-athletes

As part of the National Football Foundation Faculty Salutes Initiative, sponsored by Fidelity InvestmentsĀ®, the NFF today presented Nebraska Faculty Athletics Representative Josephine Potuto with a commemorative plaque and the school with $5,000. Nebraska and Potuto were recognized for their efforts in fostering excellence among the student-athletes as exemplified by 2012 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Rex Burkhead.

"Josephine Potuto has been a critical liaison between academics and athletics at Nebraska," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "We are proud to join with Fidelity Investments in highlighting her role in ensuring that the student-athletes at Nebraska have an educational experience that prepares them for success long after their playing days in Lincoln."

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 15 schools with a member of the annual NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class. As part of the initiative, the NFF is presenting each of the faculty representatives with a commemorative plaque and $5,000 from Fidelity Investments to support the academic support services for student-athletes at each school.

"The Faculty Athletics Representative position, fulfilled at UNL by Josephine Potuto, is crucial to our athletic department, as Jo ensures academic integrity and looks out for the welfare of our student-athletes by monitoring the delicate balance of academics and athletics," said Shawn Eichorst, Nebraska Director of Athletics. "We appreciate the National football foundation and Fidelity Investments honoring scholar-athletes and recognizing the Faculty Athletics Representative position on a national platform."

Potuto teaches constitutional, procedural and criminal law, federal jurisdiction, and sports law at Nebraska. She has been Nebraska's faculty representative since 1997, serving nine years (including two as chair) on the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions. Her other NCAA service includes the Division I Management Council, the NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championship Committee, and an NCAA-wide committee to advise NCAA staff on student-athlete issues.

Nebraska was represented in the 2012 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class by Rex Burkhead, who concluded one of the most successful all-around careers in Cornhusker history with a total of 3,329 rushing yards. The career total places him among the top five all-time rushers in Nebraska history. A History Major with a 3.43 GPA, he also made his mark in the classroom, twice earning Capital One/CoSIDA First Team Academic All-America honors. A two-time captain, the Plano, Texas, native claimed a spot on the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his many contributions in the community, including his mentorship of a six-year-old boy with pediatric brain cancer.

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 currently 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 55-year history of the program, which has awarded more than $10.1 million to 771 individuals since its inception.

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