Willie Fritz of Sam Houston State has been named the Liberty Mutual Insurance NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision 2012 Coach of the Year.
Liberty Mutual Insurance partners with the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame to hand out the annual award which honors sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence on and off the field. Also, the award recognizes one coach in each NCAA division. Fritz joins the other 2012 winners: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame (FBS); Peter Rossomando, New Haven (Conn.) (Division II); and Glenn Caruso, St. Thomas (Minn.) (Division III).
“These four coaches do so much more than just succeed in the win column,” former college and NFL great and chair of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Archie Manning said. “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. 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.”
“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.”
Fritz, along with the other 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 his name to his school’s alumni association.
In three years since arriving in Huntsville, Tex., Fritz has led the Bearkats to a 31-10 record, two Southland Conference championships and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division I (FCS) national championship game the past two seasons.
Fritz’s student-athletes have been successful 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.