Senior Associate Athletics Director (Executive Editor)
A South Bend, Ind., native, John Heisler is in his 39th year in 2016-17 as a member of the University of Notre Dame athletics staff. His tenure has included 16 years as sports information director at Notre Dame after spending 10 previous years as a member of the sports publicity staff. He added the title of assistant athletics director in 1995, and then was named an associate athletics director in 2001. Heisler was promoted to his current position as senior associate athletics director in October 2004.
Heisler is the primary print feature content producer for Fighting Irish Media and und.com, the official Notre Dame athletics web site—including his popular Sunday Brunch event recap series. He has administrative duties working with the Irish men’s lacrosse program, assists in the areas of media relations, scheduling and broadcast properties–and contributes to various external events. He is a key department liaison to Notre Dame Sports Properties, the athletic marketing branch of the department, and its general manager Scott Correira.
Heisler edits the acclaimed and award-winning “Strong of Heart” publication that annually features 20 stories about individuals connected with Notre Dame athletics. That publication received a best-in-the-nation citation in 2014-15 from the College Sports Information Directors of America.
He originally joined the athletics staff in April 1978 as assistant sports information director and was promoted to associate director in July 1982 under former longtime sports information director and associate athletics director Roger Valdiserri.
Heisler helped edit a variety of award-winning publications during his career, including 25 judged best in the nation by CoSIDA panels. He worked primarily with the Notre Dame football and basketball programs following his promotion to associate sports information director, producing nine top-ranked football media guides and four more in basketball.
He has edited Irish football highlight films and coordinated production of various other Notre Dame video products and merchandise. He has done color analysis of Notre Dame basketball games on both radio and television. He currently serves as executive producer of the Jack Swarbrick Radio Show.
Heisler spent four years working in the University of Missouri sports information office as a student, handling publicity for basketball and various Olympic sports. Following his graduation from the School of Journalism in December 1976, he was named the first full-time assistant to Missouri sports information director Bill Callahan, then moved to Notre Dame one year later.
He helped direct research operations in Los Angeles for the ABC Sports coverage of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, worked with NBC Sports as an administrator of its research operation for coverage of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta and served as network liaison with ABC Sports for its coverage of the 1987 International Summer Special Olympic Games at Notre Dame.
Heisler has written, co-written or edited 10 books on Notre Dame football:
— assisting former Irish coach Lou Holtz in the writing of “The Fighting Spirit,” the best-selling story of Notre Dame’s ’88 national championship football season
— editing “Quotable Rockne,” a book of Knute Rockne quotations published in 2001
— collaborating with former Irish coach Gerry Faust and former Chicago sportswriter Bob Logan on “Gerry Faust’s Tales from the Notre Dame Sideline,” in 2004
— editing “Echoes of Notre Dame Football,” published in 2005
— editing “Then Ara said to Joe,” a collection of tales about Notre Dame football in 2007
— authoring “University of Notre Dame Football Vault,” a coffee-table-style scrapbook history of Notre Dame football in 2007
— writing “Greatest Moments in Notre Dame Football History” in 2008
— writing “100 Things Notre Dame Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” in 2009 (republished in 2013)
— collaborating with Tim Prister on “Always Fighting Irish,” published in 2012
— chronicling the memorable 2012 Irish season in “Faith Restored,” published in 2013
Heisler served as media coordinator for NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship games at Notre Dame in 1985 and 1988 and worked at five NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four events. He previously served on the National Football Foundation District IV Screening Committee that reviewed candidates from 17 Midwest schools for the College Football Hall of Fame. He’s currently the Division I administrator on the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association board of directors as well as vice-chair of the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Lacrosse Committee.
In 2003 Heisler was inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame, received the Heisman Memorial Trophy Excellence Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to collegiate football and the Scoop Hudgins Outstanding Sports Information Director Award from the All-American Football Foundation. In 2004 he received the CoSIDA 25-Year Award. He helped initiate the CoSIDA Writing Contest to promote excellence in writing among CoSIDA members. In 2009, Heisler received the Bob Williams Helping Hand Award from the Indiana Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association. In 2011 his feature story on former longtime Notre Dame track coach Joe Piane was selected the CoSIDA Writing Contest’s Story of the Year—and he received another best-in-the-nation citation in 2016 for a football game program commentary about senior Irish player John Turner and the loss of his mother. In 2011 he received a Telly Award for the historical promotional video script he created featuring the Notre Dame-Army football rivalry.
In 1994 he received the University’s Special Presidential Award from Notre Dame president Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C. The Notre Dame Monogram Club awarded him an honorary monogram in 1991. He received the 2015 Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Award of the Year.
Born Nov. 13, 1954, Heisler and his wife, Karen (adjunct professor in the University’s Department of Film, Television and Theatre), are parents of two sons, Scott and Timothy.