President Donald Trump (R) presents the Medal of Freedom to Lou Holtz in the Oval Office on Thursday at the White House in Washington, D.C. Pool photo by Doug Mills/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 3 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump presented former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday, calling him "one of the greatest titans in American football history."
The ceremony took place in the Oval Office with at least 30 people attending, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who hails from one of the states where Holtz coached.
"Wherever Lou went, football glory followed," Trump said. "He teaches people how to live and how to live properly."
Holtz, 83, said he's proud to receive the honor from Trump, the "greatest president in my lifetime."
This was the 17th time Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor that's given to those who have made contributions to benefit the security of the United States or national interests, world peace or other cultural endeavors.
"America recognizes Lou Holtz as one of the greatest football coaches of all time for his unmatched accomplishments on the gridiron, but he is also a philanthropist, author, and true American patriot," the White House said in a statement.
Though Holtz received the honor for his legacy as a college football player and head coach, most prominently at the University of Notre Dame, he was also an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves for seven years.
Holtz played football at Kent State University in Ohio before embarking on his coaching career at the University of Iowa. He held other head coaching jobs at the College of William and Mary, North Carolina State, the University of Arkansas, the University of Minnesota and the University of South Carolina and worked as an analyst for ESPN for 10 years.
Holtz infamously spent one season in the NFL, leading the New York Jets to a 3-10 record in 1976. He was hired by Notre Dame a decade later, where he compiled a record of 100-30-2 in 11 seasons at the school. His 1988 Fighting Irish team went undefeated, 12-0, and captured the national championship.
"Most importantly, he inspired generations of young athletes along the way," the White House said.
Now retired, Holtz has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Ham and the Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame. He's written multiple books and has two charities -- the Holtz Charitable Foundation and the Holtz's Heroes Foundation. His son Skip is also a college football head coach, presently at Louisiana Tech University.
Holtz's Medal of Freedom ceremony comes just shy of two weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19.