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Aug. 8, 2006

Vienna, Va. – Former UVa and Navy head coach George Welsh has been selected by USA Football to lead the United States national team that will compete in the third World Championship of American Football next year in Kawasaki, Japan.

The 2007 tournament appearance will mark the first time the United States has competed in a world championship event in the sport of football. The tournament, which is run by the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), was previously held in 1999 in Italy and 2003 in Germany.

“USA Football was looking for an experienced coach to lead our first National Team into the World Championship of American Football,” USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. “George Welsh’s experience and Hall of Fame credentials make him the ideal choice for this position.”

Welsh is currently in the process of identifying and selecting coaches to fill out his five-man assistant staff.

The 45-man United States roster will be made up of college football players who complete their eligibility in 2006. Player selection will begin late in the 2006 college football season when head coaches at all NCAA and NAIA schools will be asked by USA Football to nominate up to two seniors from their teams for consideration.

“It’s a distinct privilege and honor for me to coach the first U.S. team in the World Cup of American Football in Japan next summer,” Welsh said.

“My staff and I will work very diligently to assemble an excellent team that will represent all levels of the NCAA and the NAIA. These individuals will not only be good football players but outstanding young men of character and high moral standards who are committed to winning and will represent the United States in an exemplary fashion.

“Personally, I’m very enthused about this opportunity to return to the sidelines after a hiatus of six years.”

The United States will be one of six countries competing in the world championship. Japan, the host country and two-time defending champion, Sweden, the current European champion, and Germany have already qualified for the event along with the United States. Two more countries will qualify for the championship through play-in tournaments in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific later this year.

Responsible for rebuilding two national Division I-A programs, George Welsh guided Navy and Virginia for a total of 28 years, returning Navy to its past glory and lifting Virginia to a new level of success.

A 2004 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Welsh began his head coaching career at his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy, where he led the Midshipmen to three bowl game appearances and their first nine win season in 16 years. In nine seasons (1973-81), Welsh won 55 games, the most in Navy history.

Welsh’s legacy at Virginia began in 1982, and in 19 seasons (1982-2000) at the helm, he became the all-time winningest coach in school and Atlantic Coast Conference history. Named ACC Coach of the Year five times and National Coach of the Year three times, Welsh guided the Cavaliers to a share of two ACC titles and set a conference record with 13 consecutive seasons of at least seven wins.

During his time in Charlottesville, Welsh led Virginia to 12 bowl game appearances, including the school’s first-ever bowl trip, the Peach Bowl, in 1984. Prior to his arrival, Virginia had only two winning seasons in the program’s previous 29 years. Welsh guided the Cavaliers to 15 winning seasons in 19 years. His 189 victories ranked him 24th in Division I-A history upon the completion of his career.

A native of Coaldale, Pa., Welsh graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1956. He played quarterback on the Navy football team and finished third in the 1955 Heisman Trophy balloting after leading the nation in passing and total offense as a senior. He led Navy to a 21-0 upset over heavily favored Mississippi in the 1955 Sugar Bowl. He served as an assistant coach at Penn State under Rip Engle and Joe Paterno for 10 seasons before being named head coach at Navy in 1973.

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