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Heisman Trophy winner donates $1 million to Notre Dame

| Thursday, November 29, 2018

Notre Dame alum and 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte and his wife, Eileen, donated $1 million to the University in order to found “an endowment for grants-in-aid” for student-athletes, Notre Dame announced in a press release Saturday.

Having assisted the University’s Joyce Grants-in-Aid Program for many years, the Huarte’s have donated a total of $1.5 million to athletic scholarships.

Jack Swarbrick, University vice president and director of athletics, praised the Huarte family for their donation and their involvement in the community.

“John and Eileen’s gift adds another chapter to their storied legacy at Notre Dame,” Swarbrick said in the release. “John’s accolades as a student-athlete are well-documented and have earned him a rightful place in Notre Dame lore. But it’s the commitment of John and Eileen to their family, their business and other Fighting Irish student-athletes that truly speaks to who they are. We thank them for this tremendous gift, which ensures stories like John and Eileen’s will continue for generations to come.”

As a child, John would listen to Notre Dame football games on the radio while working at his father’s citrus farm in Anaheim, Calif., according to the release. He entered the University in 1961, and helped the team achieve a 9-1 record during his senior year.

As the result of his performance that season, John became the sixth Notre Dame player to earn the Heisman Trophy. According to the release, John also earned consensus first-team All-America honors and UPI Player of the Year. In 2005, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

John said he was inspired to donate to Notre Dame in honor of his role models in the football program.

“You can’t pay it back; you can only pay it forward,” he said in the release. “For me, it goes back to some of the group I learned from, guys from the ‘40’s and ‘50’s. Leon Hart, Johnny Lujack, Johnny Lattner — those guys were great about coming back and being involved with the program and setting an example. I always wanted to be like them. It just so happens football was my mainstay. But all the sports at Notre Dame, from track, to fencing, to baseball, represent the University so well and are deserving of support. We felt it was important to help them all.”

In the 1965 American Football League draft, he was a second-round selection of the New York Jets, according to the release. He later played professionally for several teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles, Boston Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. In 1975, the final year of his career, he played for Memphis of the World Football League.

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