“This year’s class is one of the best ever in the 53-year history of the program,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. “Their average GPA is a remarkable 3.81, setting a modern day record for the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards. Without exception, they are some of the finest student-athletes to ever set foot on the gridiron, and they serve as a prime example of football’s unique ability to build leaders. Ensuring that they continue their education with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship is a privilege, and we know that they have only begun to reach their potential.”
Each NFF National Scholar-Athlete honoree will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship at the 54th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 6 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City, and one of 16 will be announced as the 22nd recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University, and the 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal, the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening.
Ganious, a native of Houston, Texas, is one six non-Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) student-athletes to win the prestigious honor. He is one of three from Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools as Yale and Northwestern State (La.) are the other two.
“It’s an honor to be selected for such a prestigious award,” Ganious said. “I think this award is something a lot of student-athletes dream about, but until it becomes a reality, you don’t realize what you have accomplished. Looking back on it, the biggest thing I got out of this is through hard work you can achieve anything. I am proud to not only represent myself, but my family, the University of South Dakota and my teammates and it’s great to be able to represent them all nationally.”
In all, 127 student-athletes were nominated for the award as 33 came from FCS schools, 47 from FBS schools, 11 from NCAA Division II, 30 from NCAA Division III and six from NAIA. Ganious is the only Great West Conference selection to earn the honor as North Dakota’s Catlin Solum also was nominated.
Ganious has had a stellar career for the Coyotes both on and off the field. He moved into third all-time in rushing this season in school history with 2,760 yards. He surpassed Jared Schwenn (1994-97) on Sept. 10, 2011, with 85 yards as the Coyotes upset then-No. 1 and defending national champion Eastern Washington University 30-17 in the DakotaDome. Ganious has lettered all three years as a Coyote and earned All-Great West Conference first team honors as a sophomore and junior. He led the team with 817 yards rushing in 2010 finishing second in the league. As a sophomore, he led the conference in rushing and was named South Dakota’s Offensive Player of the Year. As a redshirt freshman, he also led the team in rushing (755 yards) and was named USD’s Harry Gamage Most Valuable Freshman in 2008.
In the classroom, Ganious’ accomplishments are just as impressive. He carries a 3.81 GPA in psychology and plans on attending P.A. school after graduation in May. He is a two-time Great West Academic All-Conference selection and earned CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Second Team Academic All-America honors in 2009. He is a two-time FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) ADA Academic All-Star and had the prestigious honor of representing South Dakota at the NCAA National Student-Athlete Leadership Conference in May of 2009 in Orlando, Fla.
Ganious also has participated in a number of extra-curricular activities as he is the Co-President of SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) and nominated for Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year (July 2011). He was named Outstanding Junior in the Psychology Department in May 2010 and was a member of the Gender Equity Oversight Committee on Title IX (March 2010), while serving on the Athletic Director search committee (January 2010).
In addition, Ganious also has done numerous volunteer activities including wheelchair basketball (February 2010), volunteered at a nursing home (June 2011) and at the Children’s Home and Aid Rice Center (July 2011), to name a few.
“Chris is one of the best student-athletes I have coached in my 19 years as a head coach,” Coyote head football coach Ed Meierkort said. “His leadership off the field academically, socially and in our community is what the University of South Dakota stands for. I am proud of Chris and his family. The University is excited to attend this great event with Chris.”