INDIANAPOLIS --- Robert K. Kraft, the chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Kraft Group and the National Football League’s (NFL) New England Patriots, has been named the recipient of the 2006 Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest honor the NCAA bestows.
The award, also known as the “Teddy,” will be presented at the NCAA Honors Celebration on Saturday, January 7, during the annual NCAA Convention in Indianapolis. The Convention will serve as the kick-off to the NCAA’s Centennial with the theme, “Celebrating the Student-Athlete.”
The “Teddy” is presented annually to a former NCAA student-athlete for whom competitive athletics in college and attention to physical well-being after graduation have been important factors in a distinguished career of national significance and achievement.
The award is named after President Theodore Roosevelt, whose concern for the conduct of intercollegiate athletics led to the formation of the NCAA in 1906. Past recipients of the Teddy have included a variety of public- and private-sector leaders including Byron R. White (1969), Omar Bradley (1973), Althea Gibson (1991), Bill Richardson (1999), William S. Cohen (2001), Eunice Kennedy Shriver (2002) and former presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower (1967), Gerald R. Ford (1975), George H.W. Bush (1986) and Ronald Reagan (1990). Last year’s award winner was Sally K. Ride.
Jack Ford, Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist and nationally recognized trial attorney, author and teacher, will serve as emcee of the event. Ford, a former Yale football student-athlete, has served on the NCAA Honors Committee and was named a 1997 NCAA Silver Award honoree.
Kraft earned two letters in football at Columbia University, first as a member of the freshman football team in 1959, then as a member of the varsity lightweight football team in 1960. After suffering an injury during the second game of his junior year, Kraft did not play football again.
In 1963, Kraft received a bachelor’s degree in history and economics from Columbia. After receiving a fellowship to attend the Harvard School of Business, he earned a master’s degree in business administration.
Kraft began his business career with the Rand-Whitney Group, Inc., and then founded International Forest Products, a trader of paper commodities currently located in more than 80 countries world-wide. In 1988, Kraft founded the Kraft Group, consisting of Rand-Whitney Group; Rand-Whitney Containerboard; International Forest Products, which he founded; the New England Revolution soccer franchise; and more than 30 private equity investments.
Currently, Kraft is the chairman and CEO of the New England Patriots, the most successful football franchise in the NFL. Under Kraft’s leadership, the Patriots have won three of the last four Super Bowls, five division championships and four conference championships. When Kraft took the helm for the Patriots in 1994, they were last in the NFL in revenue and attendance. Eleven years later, the Patriots have become one of the NFL’s most profitable franchises and have an impressive 11-year sellout streak. Kraft also serves on the NFL broadcast, finance, investment and business operations committees.
In 2002, Kraft was named the Sports Executive of the Year by the Sports Business Journal and the Sports Industrialist of the Year by the Sports Business Daily.
Considered one of the most generous philanthropists in New England, Kraft has donated millions to local charities. In 2004, the Kraft family received the Lifetime Achievement Award and was recognized as Boston’s most powerful family by Boston magazine. Kraft serves on the executive committee of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he established the Robert K. Kraft Family Blood Donor Center.
"For any of us who have been privileged enough to make a few dollars, being able to give back and touch your community in ways that help people to help themselves or help people be strong when they are vulnerable is a very rewarding experience,” said Kraft.
The principal benefactor of the Robert K. Kraft Family Center of Student Life at Columbia, Kraft also serves as a trustee emeritus at Columbia, a trustee of Boston College, and as a member of the board of directors of Harvard Business School. He also serves on the Board of Overseers of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and on the Federal Reserve in Boston.
Kraft continues to be a champion for sports and fitness, as demonstrated by his generous donations to Providence, Rhode Island, and Jerusalem, Israel, to construct stadiums for recreation and amateur sports.
The “Teddy” honoree is selected by the NCAA Honors Committee, which comprises eight athletics administrators at member institutions and nationally distinguished citizens who are former student-athletes. The committee members are: Cedric W. Dempsey, president emeritus, NCAA; Susan Hartmann, professor of history, Ohio State University; Calvin Hill, consultant, Dallas Cowboys; Gibbs Knotts, faculty-athletics representative, Western Carolina University; Valerie A. Richardson, associate athletics director for intercollegiate sporst programs and senior woman administrator, Columbia University; Julie Power Ruppert, associate commissioner and senior woman’s administrator, America East Conference; Thomas J. Brown, commissioner, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference; and Timothy W. Gleason, commissioner, Ohio Athletic Conference.
Candidates are nominated by NCAA member institutions.