A few days after the Arizona Cardinals arrive in the cool mountain air at Northern Arizona University, President John Haeger will be inducted into Flagstaff Sports Foundation Hall of Fame for his continued efforts to enrich the partnership between the football team, university and Flagstaff community.
The three year contract extension signed this June marks the continuation of a positive partnership between Northern Arizona University and the Cardinals. NAU has hosted the Cardinals’ training camp since 1988, bringing the energy of the NFL within reach of thousands of fans in the state.
“Dr. Haeger has been instrumental in the Arizona Cardinals’ continued appearance in Flagstaff and has just completed a three-year contract to have them train at Northern Arizona University every year,” said John Birkett, president of Flagstaff Sports Foundation.
Haeger will be honored for his long-standing relationship with the team and desire to make the Cardinals’ stay in town a summer highlight. He also is a steadfast supporter of NAU athletics.
Last spring Lumberjack athletes recorded a cumulative grade point average of 3.07 and exceeded academic standards set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in their Academic Progress Rate report.
“Hosting the Arizona Cardinals is just one way NAU expands its horizons beyond the traditional university mission,” Haeger said. “We enjoy the excitement the Cards bring to the campus each summer and look forward to continuing our relationship with the team and their fans.”
CBS Sports writer Clark Judge ranked NAU as the NFL’s No. 1 training camp, saying: “Clean, clear air. Picture-postcard town. Nice people. Mountains to the north. Evergreens everywhere. And the Cardinals in the middle of all of it. What’s wrong with this picture? I’ll tell you what: Absolutely nothing.”
The Cardinals’ stay brings an estimated $2 million in economic activity to northern Arizona and further defines NAU and Flagstaff’s “One Community” campaign.
Former NAU President Eugene Hughes kicked off the first training camp when the Cardinals’ franchise moved to Arizona. President emeriti Clara Lovett continued to build the partnership, welcoming the team to the university from 1994-2001, when Haeger took the reins.
Four other prominent individuals will be inducted in this year’s Hall of Fame, recognized for their contributions to the Flagstaff community through sports.
Former NAU Ice Jacks hockey coach Doug Allan will be recognized for his success both on the ice and in shaping players to be dedicated, hard working and respectable leaders.
Mike Nesbitt, the Lumberjacks’ head athletic trainer for 36 years and professor of exercise science, will be honored for his dedication to athletic training education in Arizona, including developing a bachelor’s degree in athletic training and the Athletic Training Endowment at NAU.
Ray Smith will be recognized for his achievements on the football field and in the classroom, as a member of NAU’s 1978 Big Sky championship team and a teacher and football coach at Kingman High School.
Former Flagstaff High School football standout, David Carder, will be honored for his four-year run at Stanford University, where he started at defensive line for three years.
Last year, the foundation recognized the Cardinals’ contributions to Flagstaff and inducted owner Bill Bidwill into the 2009 Hall of Fame.