Former University of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson will return to Camp Randall Stadium this spring to deliver the commencement address to UW-Madison’s class of 2016.
The university announced Wilson will address the graduates at the May 14 ceremony in a video posted online Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s an honor to be asked to speak at any commencement ceremony, but I’m particularly excited to return to a place where I have so many great memories,” Wilson said.
Wilson endeared himself to Wisconsin fans in 2011 by leading the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl appearance during his only season in Madison.
In the NFL, Wilson has led the Seattle Seahawks to two Super Bowls, winning one of them two years ago.
UW-Madison officials also lauded Wilson’s charitable work, which includes regular visits to Seattle Children’s Hospital and a foundation he started in his father’s memory.
“Whether you follow sports or not, his achievements show how hard work and determination can lead to success at the highest levels,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said.
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UW’s senior class officers recommended Wilson to address the graduates.
“He exemplifies leadership, hard work and philanthropy, making him the ideal speaker for the class of 2016,” senior class vice president Bhupinder Manhani said.
Wilson holds a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University, where he played football and baseball, but didn’t have time to attend his graduation ceremony, officials said. He took graduate courses in educational leadership and policy analysis during his year at Wisconsin.
“I was lucky enough to experience some of the amazing things that go on at UW, so I know these graduates are prepared for whatever comes their way,” Wilson said.
UW-Madison will pay Wilson’s travel expenses to attend the ceremony, which has been held at Camp Randall since 2014, but he will not be paid for the speech.
Wilson’s success has at times challenged many UW fans’ affection for him. He has three career victories over the Green Bay Packers, including a comeback win in the NFC Championship Game last season and a controversial victory in 2012, when referees ruled a pass from Wilson was a game-winning touchdown for Seattle, rather than an interception for the Packers.