Former Tide Star Bill Battle Honored

Former Alabama football star Bill Battle, a successful coach and ultrasuccessful businessman, has been selected by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame for one of its major awards.

Bill Battle was an outstanding end for Alabama under legendary Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. This year he will receive the NFF award for Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football.

The announcement was made by Archie Manning, who serves as chairman of the NFF.

Battle is in very, very good company as the NFF 2008 Major Awards were announced.

The Gold Medal is presented to John Glenn, former astronaut and United States senator. The Distinguished American Award goes to business tycoon T. Boone Pickens for his work as a philanthropist. Gene Smith, director of athletics at Ohio State, was selected for the John L. Toner Award.

"We are thrilled to honor this year's major award winners as not only leaders within our football community but as outstanding members of society," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "The NFF mission is to build leaders through football and these gentlemen are without a doubt the definition of that creed." Each of these awards will be presented at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 9, 2008, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Also that evening, the NFF will recognize the National Scholar-Athlete class (announced in the fall); award the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth; and induct the 2008 Football Bowl Subdivision College Football Hall of Fame Class.

Here is what the NFF said about Battle and his award:

The Outstanding Contribution To Amateur Football Award is intended to provide national recognition to an individual(s) whose efforts and activities in support of the Foundation and its goals have been local in nature. It also applies to individuals who have made significant contributions to the game of football either to the manner in which it is played and coached or to the manner in which it is enjoyed by spectators.

A legend in the world of collegiate marketing, Bill Battle leveraged his experiences as a player for Bear Bryant at Alabama and as a head coach at Tennessee to build the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) into a major force in the $4 billion collegiate merchandise market, earning more than $800 million in royalties for his clients over the years.

His passion for the collegiate athletics and a strong interest in marketing led him to launch Golden Eagle Enterprises in 1981, and he landed his coach, Bear Bryant, and alma mater, Alabama, as his first licensing client. By 1983, Battle had signed eight other schools and moved the renamed Collegiate Licensing Company to Atlanta from Selma. With a unrelenting focus on providing his clients greater exposure and the broadest range of licensing services, Battle built CLC into a national leader in the $4 billion annual market for collegiate licensed merchandise. Now, the nation's oldest and largest collegiate licensing company, the company boasts more than 200 colleges, universities, bowls and conferences as clients, representing more than 75 percent of the current annual market. In 2007, Battle sold the company to IMG, and he remains active in the company, serving as its chairman with his son Pat overseeing the day-to-day operations as president.

A member of Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's first national championship team in 1961, Bryant followed his playing days by entering the coaching profession as an assistant at the University of Oklahoma. From 1964-1965, he served at the U.S. Military Academy, including work as an assistant football coach. He arrived at the University of Tennessee in 1966 as an assistant to Hall of Fame Coach Doug Dickey, and in 1970, when Dickey left for Florida, Battle, 28 years-old, assumed the head coaching position, becoming the youngest coach at the time, tallying a 59-22-2 record and five straight bowl appearances with three squads finishing in the top ten.

A native of Birmingham, Battle was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of fame in 1982 and was the first member inducted into the National Collegiate Licensing Association Hall of Fame in 2000. He has been named one of Street & Smith's 20 Most Influential People in College Athletics. He currently serves on the boards of Collegiate Images and Birmingham Southern College. He holds a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama.

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