September 24, 1998
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Jim Flanigan of the Chicago Bears and Rick Mirer of the Green Bay Packers have established academic scholarship endowments at the University of Notre Dame, joining other alumni student-athletes who together have contributed more than $2 million to the University for scholarships to the general student body.
Beginning this academic year, the Rick Mirer Endowed Scholarship and the James and Susan Flanigan Endowed Scholarship will provide financial aid to Notre Dame students with outstanding academic credentials and demonstrated financial need.
“What makes the generosity of Rick, Jim and the others so unusual is that, unlike many such contributions by professional athletes to their alma maters, these funds are specifically directed to academic scholarship support – not to athletes or the athletic department,” said Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., executive vice president of the University. “Undergraduate financial aid is the University’s top fund-raising priority, and we are grateful that Rick and Jim have joined in our effort to meet the full financial need of every Notre Dame student.” A 1989 graduate of Goshen (Ind.) High School, Mirer led his team to the state championship as a senior and received the Academy of Achievement Award as the top high school football player in the country. He played quarterback for Notre Dame from 1989-92 and holds the school record for career total offense with 6,691 yards. As the starting quarterback from 1990-92, Mirer led the Irish to the Orange, Sugar and Cotton Bowls and was named a second-team All-American as a senior. He was graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1993.
Mirer was selected in the first round (the second pick overall) of the 1992 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He set NFL rookie records for attempts, completions and yards in 1993 and was voted the AFC Rookie of the Year. He was traded to the Bears in 1997 and recently was signed by the Packers.
Mirer created the Rick Mirer Children’s Charity Foundation in 1996 to assist in meeting the needs of young people and youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The foundation also has worked closely with the youth programs at Oaklawn, a mental health services hospital in Elkhart, Ind.
Flanigan, a 1990 graduate of Southern Door High School in Brussels, Wis., was his class valedictorian and a Parade and USA Today All-American in football. At Notre Dame, he started on the defensive line as a junior and senior, earning honorable mention All-America honors in 1993. He twice made the dean’s list, was the recipient of an academic leadership award, and was graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management in 1994. The Bears selected Flanigan in the third round (74th pick overall) of the 1994 draft, and he has been a starter the last four years, averaging the most tackles, tackles for losses and sacks among the team’s defensive linemen. He also has played fullback in goal-line situations, catching four touchdown passes.
Flanigan established The James Flanigan Foundation in January 1997 to raise awareness of children’s literacy issues. He recently was appointed head of Illinois’ new Reading Education Partnership Council by Joseph Spagnolo, state superintendent of education. In addition to Mirer and Flanigan, other current and former professional athletes from Notre Dame who have established academic scholarship endowments at the University include Jim Morse, Chris Zorich, Paul Hornung, Andy Heck, Johnny Lujack, Todd Lyght, Jim Lynch, Bryant Young, Demetrius DuBose, Jerome Bettis and LaPhonso Ellis.