Ara Parseghian

Ara Parseghian

Ara Parseghian was born in Akron, Ohio on May 21, 1923 to immigrant parents; his father Armenian and mother French. Parseghian began playing sports early in life; he played football, basketball, baseball, and golf. 

Parseghian attended the University of Akron briefly in 1942 before quitting school to join the Navy during WWII as a company commander at Great Lakes. While at Great Lakes he played football for Paul Brown and when the war was complete, he finished his college career at Miami University in Ohio. He lettered in three sports while at Miami University in (Ohio). Parseghian then went on to become a halfback for the Cleveland Browns in 1948 and 1949. His NFL career was cut short due to a hip injury, and he returned to his Alma Mater to coach the freshmen football team. When Miami head coach Woody Hayes left to coach at Ohio State University, Parseghian was named head coach after his success with the freshmen team. In 1956, Parseghian became head coach at Northwestern University for eight seasons before becoming head coach at Notre Dame. In 1964, Parseghian was hired as our head coach and he quickly led the Irish to a national championship in 1966, something that had not been done since the Leahy era. 

Parseghian’s legendary life came to an end on, August 2, 2017. However, his renowned success at Notre Dame will always be remembered. Parseghian led the Irish to a 95-17-4 record (.836), during his 11 seasons. His Notre Dame career is highlighted by the 1966 and 1973 teams, who finished 9-0-1 and 11-0-0, which claimed Notre Dame’s eighth and ninth national championships. Parseghian’s tenure at Notre Dame is often referred to as, the “Era of Ara.” Parseghian ranks third in Notre Dame’s history for career victories only behind Lou Holtz and Knute Rockne. 

Parseghian ended his coaching career in 1974 and began a broadcasting career of college games for ABC and CBS. 

In 1994, three of Parseghian’s grandchildren passed away due to complications with Niemann-Pick Type C Disease (NPC). This led Ara to team with his son and daughter-in-law to found the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation in order to fund studies for NPC in hopes of finding a cure. 

Parseghian will forever be remembered for being a legendary coach and philanthropist. Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C. said it best in late University President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh C.S.C.’s autobiography, God, Country, Notre Dame, “Ara Parseghian…combined the best qualities of all the great Notre Dame coaches. He was great at adapting his strategy to the talents of his athletes, he was a master strategist in preparing for games and an excellent recruiter, and he represented the best of Notre Dame.”