Potuto honored for work with scholar-athletes

For the second-consecutive year, UNL's Josephine "Jo" Potuto has been honored for her efforts in fostering excellence among student-athletes.

Potuto, professor of law and UNL's faculty athletics representative, was presented with a commemorative plaque from the National Football Foundation Faculty Salutes Initiative. The award, sponsored by Fidelity Investments, recognizes the contributions of faculty athletics representatives from schools with an athlete listed in the NFF's National Scholar-Athlete Class.

UNL's 2013 NFF National Scholar-Athlete is Spencer Long, a senior who maintained a 3.79 GPA as a biological sciences major while earning All-American honors as an offensive lineman.

Potuto also received the award in 2012 for her work with NFF National Scholar-Athlete Rex Burkhead.

“The faculty athletics representative position is crucial to our athletic department, as Jo ensures academic integrity and looks out for the welfare of our student-athletes by monitoring the delicate balance of academics and athletics,” said Shawn Eichorst, director of athletics. “We appreciate the National Football Foundation and Fidelity Investments honoring scholar-athletes and recognizing the faculty athletics representative position on a national platform.”

Potuto received the 2013 honor and a $5,000 check during halftime of the Husker men's basketball game with Indiana on Jan. 30 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The money will be used for UNL's academic support services for student-athletes.

“Jo Potuto has been a critical liaison between academics and athletics at Nebraska,” said Steve Hatchell, NFF president and CEO. “We are again proud to join with Fidelity Investments in highlighting her role in ensuring that the student-athletes at Nebraska have an educational experience that prepares them for success long after their playing days in Lincoln.”

Potuto teaches constitutional, procedural and criminal law, federal jurisdiction and sports law. She has been UNL's faculty representative since 1997, serving nine years, including two as chair, on the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions. Her other NCAA service includes the Division I Management Council, the NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championship Committee and an NCAA-wide committee to advise NCAA staff on student-athlete issues.

The NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, were established in 1959 as the first initiative in history to honor scholar-athletes with post-graduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. The program currently provides each member of the class with an $18,000 scholarship, distributing a total of $300,000 each year to the nation’s top scholar-athletes.

In 2011, Fidelity Investments became the first official sponsor in the 56-year history of the program, which has awarded more than $10.4 million to 787 people since its inception.

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