President Donald Trump announced Friday that former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among the country’s highest civilian awards.
The announcement came nine days after the coach delivered a speech in support of the president at the Republican National Convention, claiming Democratic nominee Joe Biden to be a “Catholic in name only despite significant evidence of the former vice president’s faith.
The speech was controversial enough that the president of Notre Dame released a statement a day later distancing the school from Holtz and chastising its former coach for questioning another person’s faith.
Trump announces Lou Holtz’s Presidential Medal of Freedom
While Trump did not mention Holtz’ speech in his announcement, he called the coach a longtime friend of his and claimed to have received letters from several other coaches in support of Holtz, including Nick Saban, Ed Orgeron and Urban Meyer.
He added that Holtz’s ceremony is still to be determined, but won’t be in the “too-distant future.”
— The Hill (@thehill) September 4, 2020
“Incredible leader, Lou Holtz. I’ve known him for a long time, he’s been a friend of mine. I think I’ve received letters from every football coach, almost, in the nation. That’s a little exaggeration, but some of the greats. Nick Saban wrote a letter, Coach O ... and Urban Meyer wrote a beautiful letter. So many of the other great, legendary coaches. Not only coaches, people in sports and people in life. Even great political people recommending Lou for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. We’ve analyzed it very closely. We’ve look at all of those recommendations. We’ve looked at Lou’s life and his career, what he’s done for charity. The football is obvious, he was a great coach, but what he’s done beyond even coaching.”
Trump has bestowed the Medal of Freedom to numerous sports figures since taking office, a group that includes Roger Staubach, Tiger Woods, Bob Cousy, Jerry West, Mariano Rivera, Roger Penske and Jim Ryun.
Holtz has been a longtime supporter of the Republican party and has frequently appeared on Fox News, especially in recent months as the topic of playing college football amid the coronavirus pandemic became politically charged.
Holtz won national championship at Notre Dame
In addition to Notre Dame, Holtz has served as head coach at William & Mary, NC State, Arkansas, Minnesota and South Carolina. He also spent a single season with the New York Jets, but jumped back to the college ranks after a 3-10 start to his pro career.
Holtz retired in 2004 with a 249–132–7 record as a head coach, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. He saw his best success at Notre Dame, where his team won a national championship in 1988 with a 12-0 season. In 11 seasons at South Bend, Holtz posted a 100-30-2 record and five 10-win seasons.
Among the coaches in Holtz’s coaching tree are Meyer, Pete Carroll, Barry Alvarez and Houston Nutt, plus his son, current Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz.
After retirement, Holtz worked a commentator for CBS Sports and ESPN, headlining the latter’s “College Football Live” until the network let him go in 2015.
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