Dec. 17, 2009
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - This afternoon at the FCS Championship Luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center, senior long snapper Will Thompson (Glen Arm, Md.) was presented with the inaugural Elite 88 academic award by the NCAA. The award is presented to one player at the site of the finals for each of 88 NCAA Championships held during the year.
Thompson is a two-time selection to the Colonial Athletic Association All-Academic Team. He is an Accounting major and carried a 3.92 GPA into his senior year at Villanova. The grade point averages of all players nominated for the Elite 88 award are standardized, which pushed Thompson's adjusted GPA to 3.97.
On the field, Thompson handles the long snapping duties on punts for the Wildcats, who are in Chattanooga to play Montana in the FCS championship game on Friday night at Finley Stadium. Thompson has played in 31 career games as the long snapper for Villanova and has four career tackles on special teams. This season, the Wildcats have received a big lift from their punting game, as junior Dominic Scarnecchia (Youngstown, Ohio) is averaging 37.8 yards per punt on 56 attempts.
"It is kind of ironic that my first football award as a senior would be for academics," Thompson said. "As a long snapper, we don't typically get noticed a lot, so it is a great honor for me to receive this award. I am very thankful to my teammates, coaches and family for their support in helping me win this award."
The Elite 88, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 88 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 88 championships. The 2009-10 academic year marks the first time the award is being given out.
To be eligible for the Elite 88 award, a student-athlete must be at least a sophomore in academic and athletics standing, and be in at least his or her second year of competition (in any sport) at his or her current institution. The student-athlete must also be an active member of his or her team's roster and a member of the designated squad size for the championship site.
Villanova and Montana will meet to decide this year's FCS national champion at 8 p.m. on Friday night. The game will air live on ESPN2.