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Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh

Athletic Administration

Enshrined 2011

Born in Syracuse in 1917, Theodore Hesburgh, a graduate of Most Holy Rosary grade school and high school, rose to perhaps the most visible position in all of college academics—president of the University of Notre Dame. Named to that position in 1952, Rev. Hesburgh served in that capacity for 35 years, which was, at that time, the longest tenure among active presidents of American institutions of high learning. He has been serving as President Emeritus since 1987 with an office on campus at the Hesburgh Library. An all-male school when Father Hesburgh became president, the Irish competed in nine varsity sports. Notre Dame became coeducational in 1972, requiring the school to institute a female athletics program through Title IX. During his leadership at Notre Dame, Father Hesburgh oversaw the evolution of the school’s athletic program. Twelve new sports were added, including wrestling, swimming, hockey, soccer and lacrosse for men, while creating tennis, fencing, basketball, field hockey, volleyball, swimming and cross county for women. Under his presidency, the Fighting Irish won nine national championships, including three in football and one in women’s fencing. In 1960, he approved construction of the Athletic and Convocation Center, now known as the Joyce Center. Father Hesburgh was named founding Co-Chair of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in 1989, a position he held until 2000. In addition to his long-term support and involvement in athletics, Father Hesburgh has been a champion of public service, having advised presidents and popes. 

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