The Helms Athletic Foundation was an athleticfoundation based in Los Angeles, California, U.S., founded in 1936 by Bill Schroeder and Paul Helms. It put together a panel of experts to select National Champion teams and make All-America team selections in a number of college sports including football and basketball. The panel met annually to vote on a National Champion until 1982 and retroactively ranked football teams dating back to 1883 and basketball back to 1901. The Helms Foundation also operated a Hall of Fame for both college sports. Selections prior to 1936 are often disputed as many of them are not derived from actual head-to-head competition and rely on historical documents to interpret champions.
After Paul Helms' death in 1957, United Savings and Loan became the Helms Foundation's benefactor and when United merged with Citizen Savings Bank in 1973, the Athletic Foundation became known as the Citizens Savings Athletic Foundation. It was again renamed in 1982 when First Interstate Bank assumed sponsorship for the foundation's final year. Paul Helms started Helms Bakery in Southern California, which was the official bread (Helms Olympic bread) of the 1932 Olympics. Helms Hall was located on 8760 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles CA, 90034. The Helms Olympics neon sign still can be seen on top of the building.
From 1939, when the NCAA Tournament started, the Helms and NCAA Division I champions were the same, except for 1939, 1940, 1944, and 1954 when Oregon, Indiana, Utah, and La Salle respectively won the tournament. Some schools claim a Helms nomination as a national championship.