ORLANDO, Jan. 24 – Two UCF leaders – a top military strategist and a trailblazing football standout – were among the 19 award recipients recognized last night at the NCAA’s Honors Celebration in Orlando. Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, Jr. received the 2019 Theodore Roosevelt Award and Shaquem Griffin received the 2019 Inspiration Award.
Caslen joined UCF earlier this month as senior counsel to UCF President Dale Whittaker and will lead change in the university’s administration and finance operations. He is a decorated Army veteran and former superintendent for the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Caslen played football at West Point and served for 43 years in the U.S. Army in a career that included multiple deployments and a variety of senior leadership positions. He helped lead the nation’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and eventually returned to the military academy to help mold a new generation of leaders and launch the Army’s Cyber Institute.
The Theodore Roosevelt Award, the NCAA’s highest honor, is given annually to an individual who exemplifies the ideals of college sports. It is named after the former president whose concern for the conduct of college athletics led to the formation of the NCAA in 1906.
Griffin, a former star linebacker on UCF’s football team, became the first NFL player with one hand when he joined the Seattle Seahawks last year. Griffin was just 4-years-old when his left hand was surgically removed due to amniotic band syndrome.
Griffin was named the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and in 2017, he helped lead the Knights to an American Athletic Conference Championship and Peach Bowl title. His impressive performance at the NFL combine garnered widespread attention, prompting the Seahawks to draft him in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft.
A role model and an inspiration for others, Griffin has been involved with Limbitless Solutions, a non-profit founded at UCF that uses 3D printers to create affordable prosthetic limbs for children.
The Inspiration Award is presented to a coach or administrator currently associated with intercollegiate athletics, or to a current or former varsity letter winner at an NCAA institution. It is reserved for people who used perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome a life-altering situation, and most importantly, are role models giving hope and inspiration to others.