aka Ara Raoul Parseghian
Born in Akron, Ohio on March 10, 1923 of Armenian-French descent, the son of Michael Parseghian and Amelie Bonneau.
Parseghian attended the University of Akron for two years, dropping out to serve in the US Navy for two years during WW II.
Having completed his military service, Parseghian attended Miami University (Ohio). He was a three sport athlete there, participating in football, baseball, and basketball. He made his mark in football, attaining honors as an All-Ohio halfback as well as receiving All-American mention in 1947.
After his collegiate career he enjoyed a 2 year professional career with the Cleveland Browns (1948-49). His pro career was cut short by a hip injury.
The year 1950 saw Parseghian return to Miami of Ohio as an assistant coach under Woody Hayes. The next year saw Hayes depart for Ohio State and Parseghian became head coach at Miami of Ohio. In his 5 year tenure at Miami Parseghian attained a record of 39-6-1.
His next task was to assume head coaching duties at Northwestern University in 1956. Under his able tutelage Northwestern climbed into conference contention, then into the national spotlight. In his final year at Northwestern the team was ranked #1 nationally for two weeks, and along the way they defeated Illinois (45-0), Notre Dame (35-6), and Ohio State (18-14).
Parseghian was selected as the 22nd head coach at Notre Dame University in 1964. In his first season he had to settle for a 2-7 mark, but the next year saw a stunning turnabout when the Fighting Irish finished 9-1. His final year was 1974, a year that saw the team notch up 10 wins and 2 losses, making Parseghian second all time in wins as Notre Dame coach. Under his tenure the Irish attained a mark of 95-17-4, giving him a winning percentage of .836, the best record of Notre Dame's modern era. His time there, from 1964-1974, was known as Ara's Era. He had several All American players under his tutelage, many of which went on to careers in professional football.
Ara Parseghian coached Notre Dame to National Championships in both 1966 and 1973. Along the way he coached the Fighting Irish to victory in the Cotton Bowl (1970), the Sugar Bowl (1973), and the Orange Bowl (1974).
In a college coaching career which spanned 24 years Parseghian achieved a record of 170-58-6, giving him a winning percentage of .739 lifetime.
Following his coaching career Parseghian went into a career in broadcasting. He had a weekly TV program called Ara's Sports World from 1976-77. In 1975 he had become a color commentator for ABC's football Game of the Week. In 1982 he joined CBS, and along with Brent Musburger worked in their pre-game, halftime, and post-game football programing. His work at CBS continued until 1988.
Parseghian married Kathleen Davis and they were to have 3 children.
In 1994 Ara Parseghian became the founder and Chairman of the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation (APMRF). This foundation exists to fund research into prevention and cure of Niemann-Pick C disease, a genetic disorder which has claimed the life of 3 of his grandchildren.
Niemann-Pick C is a neurodegenerative disorder which causes progressive deterioration of the nervous system. Generally the victims are children of school age who suffer an inability to metabolize cholesterol. The result is large amounts of cholesterol build up in the liver, spleen, and brain. The cumulative effects of these cholesterol deposits are disabling and eventually fatal. The disease can also become active in adults with the defective gene.
The foundation has raised over 27 million dollars to fund research into NPC and other related neurodegenerative diseases. The Parseghian family has lost 3 members to this devasating disease. Founder and spokesman Ara Parseghian recognized that research would not find a cure in time to save his grandchildren. He devotes himself to efforts to find a cure to spare others the pain he and his family have suffered from the ravages of this disorder.
Honors garnered by Ara Parseghian include the following:
- College Football Coach of the Year- 1964
- Named honorary alumnus of Notre Dame- 1974
- Induction-National Football Foundation Hall of Fame- 1980
- Induction- Indiana Football Hall of Fame- 1984
Parseghian died on August 2, 2017 at his home in Granger, Indiana at the age of 94. At the time of his death, he was suffering from a post-surgical hip infection after undergoing hip surgery weeks before his death.