President Donald Trump called Lou Holtz “a life teacher” as he awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday. Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images
Holtz, 83, said that being honored by Trump made the award particularly meaningful.
“I’m even prouder to receive it from President Donald Trump,” said Holtz, who added that Trump was the “greatest president in my lifetime.”
A graduate of Kent State, Holtz also served seven years as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves.
The West Virginia native was among the speakers at this year’s Republican National Convention, offering Trump a strong endorsement while attacking the president’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden. In his remarks, Holtz called Biden a Catholic “in name only.” Biden is a practicing Catholic.
Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, later issued a statement admonishing the former coach for using the university’s name in his remarks, saying it “must not be taken to imply” that Notre Dame endorses Holtz’s views, any candidate or any political party. Jenkins also admonished Holtz for questioning the “sincerity” of Biden’s faith.
Trump announced the week after Holtz’s convention speech that he would honor the retired coach with the medal.
“Wherever Lou went, football glory followed,” Trump said at a ceremony that included about 30 people, most of whom did not wear masks. Holtz disclosed on Nov. 19 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Holtz is one of several sports figures Trump has awarded the Medal of Freedom during his time in office.
Others include former NFL Hall of Famer and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, Olympic track and field athlete and former Rep. Jim Ryun, golfer Tiger Woods, businessman and motorsports icon Roger Penske, Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, pro basketball greats Bob Cousy and Jerry West, and baseball legends Babe Ruth and Mariano Rivera.