Release courtesy of the NFF
IRVING, Texas — The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that GE Chairman & CEO Jeff Immelt, a member of the Dartmouth Class of 1978, will be recognized with the 2016 NFF Legacy Award during the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 6 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The NFF Legacy Award, established in 2007, honors individuals and organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to the NFF and/or embody its mission.
“Nobody better represents our mission than Jeff Immelt,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “A former offensive tackle at Dartmouth, he has paid tribute on countless occasions to the role football has played during his business career, and he has continuously given back to protect the game for the next generation, taking on leadership roles with our Football Matters campaign and again with the recent creation of the Congressional College Football Caucus in Washington, D.C. He has become a true ambassador for the game, and we are extremely grateful.”
In 2013, the NFF unveiled its Football Matters campaign to encourage people to tell why football matters to them. Immelt was featured in the first TV spot, capturing his perspective on the value of his football experiences in running one of the world’s largest and most successful industrial conglomerates.
“When I daydream, I don’t think about PowerPoint charts or deals or stuff like that, I daydream about football,” Immelt said in the video. “When you ask what a CEO does: drives performance, knows how to develop other people, and knows how to set standards, and all three of those things in some way comeback to what I learned when I was playing football.
“What happened on football fields just created the character, the foundation of a lot of American competitiveness, which has allowed this country to be successful for so many decades. It is such a beautiful game. It is this massive array of strategy, competitiveness, athleticism that I just think it would be the worst tragedy that I could imagine that if we ever allow anything to change this great game.”
Immelt, who has served on the NFF Board of Directors since 2012, was also important in the NFF’s creation of the first-ever Congressional College Football Caucus (CCFC), which took place in September in Washington, D.C. He spoke at the event alongside SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, both NFF Board Members, and College Football Hall of Fame coach Barry Switzer. At the Caucus, he touched on the importance of football.
“Football has had a massive impact on me and the hundreds of thousands of young men that learn competitiveness and teamwork from the game. I’ll do whatever I can to protect the future of football. My best teachers growing up were coaches, and they taught me the value of hard work.”
At Dartmouth College, Immelt majored in applied mathematics and served as president of his fraternity. At six feet four inches tall, he played offensive tackle on the Dartmouth football team. Students who knew Immelt in college recalled that he was a natural leader who could help his football teammates relax in huddles.
He graduated from Dartmouth in 1978 and earned his MBA from Harvard University in 1982. Immelt followed in the footsteps of his father, Joseph, taking a job at GE. Immelt has held several global leadership positions since coming to GE in 1982, including roles in GE's Plastics, Appliances, and Healthcare businesses. In 1989, he became an officer of GE and joined the GE Capital Board in 1997.
Immelt took over as chairman and CEO of GE in 2001 and quickly put his own stamp on the company, earning the respect of employees, customers and investors alike.
Immelt has been named one of the "World's Best CEOs" three times by Barron's, and since he began serving as chief executive officer, GE has been named "America's Most Admired Company" in a poll conducted by Fortune magazine and one of "The World's Most Respected Companies" in polls by Barron's and the Financial Times.
Immelt joins a distinguished list of NFF Legacy Award recipients for their unwavering support and leadership in the promotion of college football, including:
2007 - Harold Alfond, founder of Dexter Shoe Co.
2007 - F.M. Kirby, former Alleghany Corporation chairman and emeritus NFF Board Member
2007 - The Atlantic Coast Conference led by Commissioner John Swofford
2008 - Tom Hansen, former Pacific-10 commissioner
2008 - Jeffrey Orleans, former Ivy League executive director
2008 - Mike Tranghese, former Big East Commissioner
2009 - No Honoree Recognized
2010 - Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive vice president
2011 - Wright Waters, Sun Belt Conference Commissioner
2012 - Eric Long, the general manager of the Waldorf Astoria
2012 - Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president for college programing
2012 - Craig Silver, CBS coordinating producer for college football
2013 - Nate Boyer, University of Texas long snapper and Special Forces Green Beret
2014 – Mike McNeely, University of Florida special teams player and reserve receiver
2015 – Donnie Duncan, former Big 12 Senior Associate Commissioner and Oklahoma AD
2015 – Mike Slive, SEC Commissioner
2016 – Jeff Immelt, GE Chairman & CEO and NFF Board Member