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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Jan. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Just hours before tonight's final matchup of the college football season, Liberty Mutual Insurance, in partnership with the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame, is celebrating the positive impact coaches have on their players, school, and community by announcing the 2012 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award winners. The annual award – which honors sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence on and off the field – recognizes one coach in each NCAA division, and the 2012 winners are: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame; Willie Fritz, Sam Houston State; Peter Rossomando, New Haven (Conn.); and Glenn Caruso, St. Thomas (Minn.)
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Each of the 2012 Coach of the Year Award winners will receive a $50,000 donation from Liberty Mutual Insurance to the charities of his choice, as well as a $20,000 scholarship grant in their name to their school's alumni association. Since 2006, the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award has celebrated the work of its 25 winners by donating $1.75 million to nearly 100 charities and college alumni scholarship funds.
"These four coaches do so much more than just succeed in the win column. They challenge their student-athletes to achieve a level of excellence on the field and in the classroom, and serve as a champion to their community through their charitable endeavors," said Archie Manning, chair of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. "And with the support of passionate college football fans all across the country, we are able to recognize another venerable class of leaders with the 2012 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award."
The winners were chosen through fan voting cast December 4-20 and by selection committees comprised of national media and College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches. Fan votes contributed 20 percent to each coach's final score, while media and College Football Hall of Famers' ballots accounted for 25 percent and 55 percent, respectively.
"We are excited to stand with the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame to recognize these four coaching leaders for their roles in helping their student-athletes achieve their full potential on and off the field of play," said Jim MacPhee, senior vice president and Chief Marketing Officer, Liberty Mutual Personal Insurance. "These men devote endless days to crafting the perfect game plan on the field, yet never lack time to stress the importance of charity, community service and scholarship to their players."
The 2012 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award is presented to a coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Division II and Division III:
Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) – Brian Kelly, University of Notre DameSince taking the coaching reins of one of college football's most storied programs, Coach Brian Kelly has led Notre Dame's resurgence as a national power. In three seasons, Coach Kelly's Fighting Irish have amassed a 28-10 record, including an unblemished 2012 slate heading into tonight's BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. That win total ties Kelly for the most by any Notre Dame head coach through his first three seasons in South Bend.
A devoted supporter of charity and education, Coach Kelly's on-field success is matched only by his community work off the field. In 2008, Kelly and his wife, Paqui, started the Kelly Cares Foundation which has an emphasis on breast cancer research, education and awareness. The Kelly's also provided a $250,000 gift to the university to support cancer research, Notre Dame's Hesburgh Library system, and the Robinson Community Learning Center, which provides tutoring, violence-prevention programs, youth entrepreneurship and performing arts projects for at-risk families in South Bend. Kelly also has established a $250,000 endowment scholarship for football players at his alma mater Assumption College.
Kelly's student-athletes also thrive in the classroom, with an academic progress rate score that is nearly 20 points higher than the FBS average. This year, four Irish players were named to the Hampshire Honor Society, earned by achieving a minimum 3.2 grade point average throughout their college careers; two players were named first-team Academic All-Americans; and, for the second consecutive year the program produced a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete. In 2012, Notre Dame became the first FBS football team to be ranked No. 1 in the polls and No. 1 in graduation success.
Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) – Willie Fritz, Sam Houston State UniversityIn three years since arriving in Huntsville, Texas, Coach Willie Fritz has built the Sam Houston State Bearkats from a sub-.500 program to 31 victories and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division I (FCS) national championship games for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Coach Fritz's student-athletes have enjoyed success in the classroom as well. In his first two seasons, 70 Bearkats were named to the Southland Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll, and in 2011 Sam Houston State placed seven players on the Academic All-Southland Conference team, the most for any school. That same season saw quarterback Greg Sprowls earn the NCAA's prestigious Elite 89 Award at the FCS level.
Beyond the success on the field, Coach Fritz has established a culture of community responsibility among his players and staff. Among their activities are canned food drives for the Good Shepherd Mission in Huntsville, fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House and the Wounded Warrior Project, and weekly visits to local schools to read with children.
Division II – Peter Rossomando, University of New HavenCoach Peter Rossomando accepted the responsibility of rebuilding New Haven football after the program's five-year absence. Since the Chargers first win of the 2009 season, Rossomando had amassed a four-year record of 35-9 against Division II opponents, including back-to-back perfect runs through the Northeast-10 Conference in 2011 and 2012. This year's season saw New Haven win its third consecutive conference title to return to the Division II playoffs, and finished with a 10-1 record and #8 ranking in the national AFCA poll.
Off the field, Coach Rossomando and his staff place a high priority on their players' academic commitment, which has helped nurture two Academic All-Americans. Rossomando is well known for his charitable endeavors, supporting local Habitat for Humanity projects, youth mentoring programs, and community clean-up efforts. He is dedicated to the memorial fund he created to honor his brother Nicholas, a New York City fire fighter who lost his life in the 9/11 tragedy.
Division III – Glenn Caruso, University of St. ThomasThe only multiple-time winner of the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, 2012 marks the third consecutive season Glenn Caruso has earned the Division III honor. Caruso engineered a tremendous turnaround at St. Thomas in his five years. Taking over a two-win team following the 2007 season, the Tommies have become a national force, reeling off consecutive undefeated regular seasons in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and winning the third-most games in Division III over the past four years (50). This year, Caruso led St. Thomas to a school-record 14 wins, the program's first-ever berth in the Division III championship game, and earned a season-ending AFCA ranking of #2 in the nation.
In five seasons under Coach Caruso, UST football has won CoSIDA Academic All-America honors five times; had one National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete; has had one Gagliardi Trophy finalist and two other semifinalists; had three AFCA Good Works Team honorees; and on the field has had two conference Player of the Year recipients and 11 different players combine to win 16 All-America honors.
Off the field, Coach Caruso and his program make a great impact locally in St. Paul and beyond. With his award from the 2010 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, Caruso founded "Bucky's Pride," a foundation named for his father to support families of children dealing with cancer and blood diseases. He is a founder of a Reading Recess program, and the Tommie players and he participated in the Up 'Til Dawn Benefit writing 2,000 letters to raise funds for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
About Liberty Mutual Insurance"Helping people live safer, more secure lives" since 1912, Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified global insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2011 direct premiums written as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Liberty Mutual Insurance also ranks 84th on the Fortune 100 list of largest U.S. corporations, based on 2011 revenue. The company employs over 50,000 people in more than 900 offices throughout the world.
The sixth-largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., Liberty Mutual (libertymutual.com) sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance. The company is an industry leader in affinity partnerships, offering car and home insurance to employees and members of more than 14,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups.
About the National Football Foundation & College Football Hall of FameFounded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 121 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, Play It Smart, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association, and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. The NFF presents the MacArthur Bowl, the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, and releases the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Standings. For more information, please visit www.footballfoundation.org
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