The NFF Mourns the Passing of Rev. Theodore Hesburgh

Friday, February 27, 2015
Father Theodore Hesburgh, the 15th President of Notre Dame who received the NFF Distinguished American Award in 1975 (left), passed away Feb. 26 at the age of 97. On the right, Hesburgh (center) is joined by then NFF President and College Football Hall of Famer Dick Kazmaier (Princeton) and then NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy

The 15th President of Notre Dame and the 1975 NFF Distinguished American Award Recipient Remained a Leading Champion of the Gridiron and the Scholar-Athlete Ideal.

IRVING, Texas (Feb. 27, 2015) -- The leaders of The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame issued the following statements today on the passing of Father Theodore Hesburgh, who served as president of Notre Dame from 1952 to 1987 and passed away Feb. 26 on the Notre Dame campus. He was 97. The NFF honored Father Hesburgh in 1975, presenting him the NFF Distinguished American Award in recognition of his accomplishments as an "internationally known scholar and respected educator, whose philosophy champions academic and athletic excellence and concern for the human spirit." He served with distinction on the NFF's Board of Directors and was a key member of the leadership team that created the NFF's Annual Awards Dinner in 1956.

"Father Hesburgh stands among the giants who have been honored by the National Football Foundation," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "He played a critical role in advancing the scholar-athlete ideal, and he came to embody the highest standards in ensuring that the student-athletes on campuses nationwide developed the cherished skill sets that would benefit them for a lifetime. We are extremely grateful for his contributions. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the entire Notre Dame community."

"Father Hesburgh understood that a university is first and foremost an institution of higher education, and he coupled that understanding with a deep appreciation of the role of coaches as perhaps the most impactful educators on a college campus," said NFF President Steve Hatchell. "He became an ardent proponent of the rules that guide our sport because of the educational benefits that it has on the players who have the opportunity to participate at the college level. We are forever in his debt. We are deeply saddened by his passing, and we will do our best to carry on the principals that he so passionately fought to instill in collegiate athletics."

About the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF High School Showcases, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF Faculty Salute Initiative presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association, and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. The NFF also collaborates with the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) to release the FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll; awards the William V. Campbell Trophy presented by Fidelity Investments and prominently displayed at its official home inside the New York Athletic Club; and bestows several other major awards at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner. NFF corporate partners include the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, the Sports Business Journal and Under Armour. Learn more at

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Building Leaders Through Football & Supporting

* 768 Colleges & Universities * 70,000 College Football Players

* 15,585 High Schools * 1.1 Million High School Football Players