January 18, 2023

Carly Colombo
484-385-2934 (office)
[email protected]

Louis L. Holtz, Legendary College Football Coach, to Receive 2023 Horatio Alger Award 

Horatio Alger Association names 13 outstanding individuals, each of whom has overcome adversity to achieve professional and personal success, to its Member Class of 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 18, 2023) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that Louis L. Holtz, legendary football coach and analyst, has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. Mr. Holtz joins 12 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2023 honors. For 76 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to education and charitable efforts in their communities. 

Mr. Holtz grew up in Liverpool, Ohio as the son of a bus driver during the Great Depression. He began working as a paper boy at age 9 and continued the job through high school to make extra money. Mr. Holtz became the first in his family to earn a college degree despite battling personal adversities, including having a speech impediment and experiencing financial struggles. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Kent State University, where he played football as a linebacker. To assist with tuition, Mr. Holtz was a part of Kent State’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He earned a commission as a Field Artillery Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve upon his graduation in 1959 and went on to serve seven years as a reserve officer. While receiving his master’s degree at Iowa State, Mr. Holtz began coaching football as a graduate assistant and discovered his passion for coaching.

His first job as a head coach came in 1969 at the College of William & Mary. Throughout his 34-year career, he held coaching positions at the University of Connecticut, the University of South Carolina, the University of North Carolina, the University of Arkansas and the University of Minnesota. Mr. Holtz made his NFL debut serving briefly as head coach of the New York Jets in 1976 before returning to college football. He is most known for his 11-season tenure at the University of Notre Dame, which saw the team win 80% of its games and remain No. 1 in the country for the longest stretch in school history. Mr. Holtz left coaching in 1996 to work as a commentator for CBS Sports. In 1999, he ended his retirement to become head coach at the University of South Carolina, where he stayed until 2004. Mr. Holtz then returned to television as an analyst for ESPN.

“Mr. Holtz has been making an impact on our nation’s youth throughout the entirety of his career, mostly at the college level,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director. “It takes a special person to connect with young athletes and push them to reach their full potential both inside and outside of the classroom. His coaching career is admirable, and I look forward to witnessing his influence on our Scholars.”

Mr. Holtz is passionate about sharing his inspirational story and has written or contributed to 10 books, three of which became best-sellers. He also participates in many philanthropic endeavors as Chairman of the Board at the Holtz Charitable Foundation. In 2018, he donated $5.4 million in assets and $1.5 million to support education and religious and health-related organizations such as the YMCA, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium, Benedictine College and Northwood University. He supports students by providing trade scholarships through The Louis Holtz Family Foundation, which has awarded over $100,000 to deserving students and hosts a diabetic camp in Louisiana. Mr. Holtz is currently a motivational speaker, traveling to 13 countries to visit American troops and boost morale with his leadership and faith.

While Mr. Holtz no longer coaches, he continues to contribute to the game of football through the Holtz’s Heroes Foundation, which provides support to underprivileged student athletes. Mr. Holtz’s achievements on and off the field have earned him multiple honors. In 2008, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2012, he was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020.

“I have been fortunate to have a fulfilling career doing what I love, instilling qualities in young athletes that translate to both the game and life,” said Mr. Holtz. “While my career in athletics is over, I am excited for this new opportunity to connect with youth pursuing higher education. It is an honor to be recognized for the difference I have made in the lives of others while also being granted an opportunity to continue my work with the next generation.”

Since 1984, the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives. The Association also aims to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible through the Association thanks to the generosity of its Members, who will have collectively provided more than $245 million to 35,000 students by 2023.  

“Each year, it is our utmost honor to present outstanding leaders who have displayed extraordinary perseverance in overcoming challenges with the Horatio Alger Award,” said James F. Dicke II, chairman, Horatio Alger Association and 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “Each of these incredible leaders has also shared their success with others, giving generously to important causes and communities in need. The 2023 awardees exemplify the Association’s mission and are proof that the American Dream is within reach for all who seek it.”

Mr. Holtz and the Member Class of 2023 will be formally inducted into the Association during the Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. from March 30 through April 1, 2023. The three-day event is an annual ceremony to honor both the achievements of Members and National Scholars, who will have multiple opportunities to meet, interact and exchange stories of perseverance. 

For more information about Horatio Alger Association and its Member Class of 2023, please visit and follow the organization on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans: 

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2022, the Association awarded more than $16 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships to over 1,600 students across the United States and Canada, and provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. By the 40thanniversary of the Association’s scholarship program in 2024, more than $259 million will be awarded in undergraduate, graduate, military veteran and career and technical education scholarships to more than 37,000 deserving students. For more information, please visit