Media Press Release

U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to host Team USA Collegiate Recognition Awards in conjunction with National Football Foundation celebrations


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today announced it will bring its Team USA Collegiate Recognition Awards to Las Vegas in conjunction with the National Football Foundation’s 64th Annual Awards Dinner this December. For the first time, the two organizations have joined forces to celebrate the value of Olympic and Paralympic sports on campus and the key role football plays in developing varsity Olympic and Paralympic sport opportunities at colleges nationwide.


“We are honored to bring our collegiate awards to this premier event and are excited to partner with the National Football Foundation,” said Sarah Wilhelmi, USOPC senior director of collegiate partnerships. “We recognize football operating revenues often support Olympic and Paralympic sport opportunities on campus, and how important those opportunities are to current and future Team USA athletes. We are thrilled to honor and celebrate this holistic sport model with the NFF.”


At the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, 76% of U.S. Olympians and 50% of U.S. Paralympians honed their skills in college before taking to the international stage. At the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, nearly 40% of U.S. Olympians and 25% of U.S. Paralympians were collegiate student-athletes. Together, more than 263 schools had athletes competing for Team USA at the Tokyo and Beijing Games.


Unlike other countries, Team USA receives no government funding; the reason for its Games-over-Games success at the Olympics is largely due to our American collegiate sports model. In Tokyo, 82% of U.S. Olympic medal-winners competed in collegiate sports. In Beijing, 47% of American medalists were current or former student-athletes.


The 2022 collegiate recognition awards will honor leaders from the top-three schools that contributed to Team USA’s 2020 Olympic and 2022 Olympic Winter Games performance, and the school that contributed the most medals to the 2020 Paralympic and 2022 Paralympic Winter Games medal total.


While state institutions leverage revenue-generating operations like business schools to support broad academic offerings, the same is true in athletics. *The average Power Five state athletics department generates80% of its operational revenue from football (50%) and department-wide commercial activities (30%).Thisrevenue is used in four primary areas: shared support services and staff (39% operating budget); football expenses (28% operating budget); basketball expenses (12% operating budget); and ~20 Olympic sport programs (21% operating budget).

“At the National Football Foundation, we celebrate the good in the game – and through this partnership, that means shining a spotlight on how the game of football helps thousands of student-athletes in other sport disciplines to also achieve their personal and athletic dreams on campus,” said Steve Hatchell, President & CEO of the National Football Foundation. “We’re looking forward to partnering with the USOPC as part of our celebrations in December.”  


As uncertainties around the collegiate sports model continue, to date, there are 6,092 Division I Olympic sport programs on campus that provide opportunities to 146,267 student-athletes annually. Nationally, 56.1% of Olympic student-athletes are women as the collegiate landscape celebrates Title IX. Additionally, 41.3% of student-athletes benefiting from Olympic sport programming on campus every year are student athletes of color.


“The collegiate athletics pipeline plays a critical role in American sport, and it is the driving force of Team USA’s success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Kevin White, USOPC board member and chair of the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council. “Our student-athletes grow into leaders on campus and in their communities, and offering sport opportunities to a diverse population of students is paramount to enriching our higher education model.”


The collegiate honorees will be recognized in front of their peers at the NFF’s 64th Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6, 2022 and also during a private awards luncheon that day. The eight award winners will be announced in late-November/early December.

* Data aggregated in partnership with Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications professor Jodi Upton, Knight Chair in Data and Explanatory Journalism, and Jamie Soropoulos.



The USOPC collegiate partnerships department launched in 2016 to help bridge the important connection between the collegiate and Olympic/Paralympic landscapes. With the majority of Team USA athletes competing collegiately during their athletics journeys, the department focuses on three primary areas: aligning leaders to advance athletic programming on campus, removing impediments faced by college athletes competing both intercollegiatly and in the Team USA system, and messaging the value of Olympic/Paralympic sport opportunities on campus. More information can be found at


The 64th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas includes the induction of the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame Class; the presentation of several national scholar-athlete awards; the bestowing of the 33rd William V. Campbell Trophy® to college football's top scholar-athlete; and the honoring of top leaders with NFF major awards.