October 20, 2017
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Notre Dame Legend Ara Parseghian Dies At Age 94

Former Notre Dame head football coach Ara Parseghian died Wednesday morning at the age of 94, the university announced.

The two-time National Champion (1966, 1973) and Hall of Fame head coach joined the Fighting Irish in 1964, and led the program to a 95-17-4 record over the next 11 years. Parseghian joined Frank Leahy and Knute Rockne as the third head coach in Notre Dame history to win multiple National Championships.

“Notre Dame mourns the loss of a legendary football coach, a beloved member of the Notre Dame family and good man – Ara Parseghian,” Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins said. “Among his many accomplishments, we will remember him above all as a teacher, leader and mentor who brought out the very best in his players, on and off the field. He continued to demonstrate that leadership by raising millions of research dollars seeking a cure for the terrible disease that took the lives of three of his grandchildren. Whenever we asked for Ara’s help at Notre Dame, he was there.”

Parseghian served in the U.S Navy for two years during World War II, and played under Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Paul Brown at the Great Lakes Naval Academy in 1944. He would play under Brown again with the Cleveland Browns, but had his professional career cut short due to a hip injury.

Parseghian got his first coaching gig at Miami (Ohio) University in 1950 under Woody Hayes, and became the program’s head coach the following year when Hayes departed for Ohio State. During his five seasons as Miami’s head coach, Parseghian led the program to a 39-6-1 record and won two Mid-American Conference championships in 1954 and 1955.

“Ara demonstrated amazing grace and leadership in life as well as on the football field,” Miami University president Gregory Crawford said, via the university’s website. “I was inspired by his passion and character, especially his understanding of what makes a team – he always used his fist as a metaphor to show how strong individual members can be when they unite in loyalty and pursue a common purpose. He had a huge impact not only in football, where he won two national championships, but in the lives of so many children and families afflicted by Niemann-Pick. His virtuous leadership – his confidence, his courage, his magnanimity – inspire me, and I am honored to have been his friend.”

After six seasons at Miami, Parseghian became Northwestern’s head coach in 1956. He amassed a 36-35-1 record during in eight seasons at Northwestern, but clearly got the attention of the Fighting Irish with a 4-0 record against Notre Dame.

Following his final season at Notre Dame, Parseghian began working in broadcasting. He spent seven years working as a color commentator on ABC Sports and then worked as a college football analyst for CBS Sports.

“Ara was a remarkable man,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. “We come across thousands and thousands of people throughout our life, and most of the time they come and go, but there are certain people from the moment you meet them, you realize they’re truly unique. That’s Ara. His wit, his charm, his patience, his kindness, his foresight, and his humility truly define him. I consider myself so lucky that I not only got to know him as a football coach and mentor but as a true friend.”

“I’ll forever cherish the hand-written letters of encouragement, wisdom and advice that he’s sent throughout my tenure at Notre Dame. I’ll always keep them close to me.”

“While most people know him for the incredible success on the football field, and they are significant, I’m most inspired by the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Fund and his tireless work toward finding a treatment for Niemann-Pick Type C – a devastating disease that took the lives of three of his grandchildren. In my mind, that’s Ara’s greatest legacy. And, what a legacy to leave.”

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