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Loughborough University delegation touchdown in US for NFL visit

A delegation from Loughborough University in the UK has arrived in the United States for key meetings with both the NFL and the Chicago Bears franchise.

Professor Jo Maher is pictured next to a trophy cabinet at the home of the Chicago Bears Amercian Football team

Professor Jo Maher is pictured at the home of the Chicago Bears.

Led by Professor Jo Maher, Loughborough’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Sport, the global engagement visits will involve discussions around research and innovation opportunities as well as highlighting the success of the NFL Academy since its move to Loughborough in 2022.

Initially set-up in 2019, the UK NFL Academy provides students aged 16-19 with pathways into employment, further education and the opportunity to play NCAA college football in the United States by combining full-time education with professional-level American football coaching.

The current partnership sees Loughborough College provide high-quality coaching, education, accommodation and pastoral support to its cohort of players, while Loughborough University provides performance staff and world-class facilities to focus on the physical development of students.  

Since Loughborough’s involvement, a number of athletes have been awarded US college places, including Timi Oke’s move to Northwestern University and Daniel Akinkunmi’s commitment to the University of Oklahoma.

 “We are incredibly proud to host the NFL Academy and facilitate life-changing opportunities for our young student-athletes,” said Professor Maher.

“The role Loughborough’s enviable sporting ecosystem plays in their development is undoubtedly second to none. We, alongside the NFL Academy, consistently strive for excellence both on and off the field.

“And our commitment to the development of young athletes is one we clearly share with the Chicago Bears. Their support for Flag Football in the UK is incredible, launching the country’s first all-girls Flag Football competition along with the New York Jets, and  this will play a crucial part in helping this newly announced Olympic sport grow.

“It has been great to visit the US to highlight our many successes within sport, whilst also drawing on further opportunities to innovate including through our strong academic research offer.”

Earlier this month Loughborough University was named the ‘best university in the world for sport-related subjects’ for the eighth year running by the global QS higher education league table.

More information on the NFL Academy at Loughborough can be found here.

Professor Maher’s meeting with the NFL and Chicago Bears is just one of a number of Loughborough University engagements taking place in the US over the next few days. Led by Loughborough’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings, the delegation are meeting with key representatives from education, industry and sport to build and strengthen the University’s strategic global partnerships and explore new opportunities to collaborate. They are also hosting a number of alumni events to celebrate and connect Loughborough’s international community. The delegation will be visiting Texas, Illinois, Oregon, New York and Florida.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 24/52

About Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme and named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2024 QS World University Rankings – the eighth year running.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2024, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2024 and 10th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.