March 13, 2006
NOTRE DAME. Ind. – Former University of Notre Dame football standout Alan Page and former Irish football coach Knute Rockne are Notre Dame’s two representatives on the list of “100 Most Influential NCAA Student-Athletes” announced in conjunction with the NCAA Centennial celebration in 2006.
The NCAA defines the 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes as those who have made a significant impact or major contributions to society. A special panel that included college presidents, athletics directors, faculty representatives, student-athletes and conference representatives chose the list.
Institutions with more than one student-athlete selected to the list included UCLA (seven), Stanford (six), Yale (four), the U.S. Naval Academy (four), the U.S. Military Academy (four), Tennessee State (three), Princeton (three), Ohio State (three), Notre Dame (two), North Carolina (two) and Columbia (two).
The 100 student-athletes will be honored in two one-hour programs aired by ESPN Classic. The shows first air today at 8:00 p.m. EST (100 to 51) and 9:00 p.m. (50-1). The shows re-air Tuesday on ESPN Classic and will air six more times on ESPNU (March 14, 15, 16, 22; April 20; May 6).
Page led the Notre Dame football team to Associated Press and United Press International national championships in 1966 and a combined 25-3-2 mark from 1964 to 1966. A first-round NFL draft pick and 15th selection overall, he went on to collect 164 career sacks, block 28 punts or placekicks, recover 24 fumbles and appear in eight Pro Bowls in a professional football career that spanned 15 seasons, including 10 as a member of the Vikings and five with the Chicago Bears.
Page made an appearance in every game of his professional career and started all but three matchups, a string of 215 consecutive contests that included 16 playoff games, four NFL championships and Super Bowls IV, VII, IX and XI.
In 1971, the four-time NFC defensive player of the year became the first defensive player in NFL history to earn the league’s most valuable player award. Page was selected to the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and was inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1993.
An NCAA Silver Anniversary Award recipient in 1992, Page has been a member of the National Bar Association since 1979 and currently sits on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and the board of directors for the Minneapolis Urban League. Since 1980, he has been a member of the Minnesota Minority Lawyers’ Association, and he has served as an advisory board member to the League of Women Voters since 1984.
In 2004, Page became the 37th recipient of the NCAA’s Theodore Roosevelt Award, the NCAA’s highest honor. In 2005, he received the Distinguished American Award from the National Football Foundation. In 2001, Page received the Dick Enberg Award from the Academic All-America program sponsored by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The award is given annually to a person whose actions and commitments have further strengthen the meaning and reach of the Academic All-America program and the student-athlete while promoting the values of education and academics.
A 1967 Notre Dame graduate with a degree in political science, he graduated from the University of Minnesota’s law school in 1978. He attended law school while playing with the Vikings, began practicing with a Minnesota law firm in 1979, later became an assistant attorney general and was sworn in as an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1993.
Originally from Canton, Ohio, Page and his wife Diane in 1988 established the Page Education Foundation to provide educational grants to students of color to attend Minnesota colleges. The foundation has awarded more than 5,100 scholarships worth more than $4.5 million to 2,393 individual students
Rockne was a receiver for the Notre Dame football team in 1912 and ’13, earning third-team All-America honors as a senior. He majored in chemistry, graduating magna cum laude with a grade average of 90.52 on a scale of 100.
As an undergraduate, Rockne worked as a chemistry research assistant in the laboratory of Rev. Julius A. Nieuwland, the renowned chemist who discovered the formulae for synthetic rubber. Upon graduating, Rockne was offered a position at the University as a graduate assistant in chemistry, which he accepted on the condition that he be allowed to work as an assistant to football coach Jesse Harper.
When Harper retired after the 1917 season, Rockne was appointed head coach and Notre Dame’s football program soared to national prominence. He coached from 1918 through 1930, finishing with a 105-12-5 (.881) career record that still ranks as the best winning percentage in the history of college football. His teams won consensus national championships in 1924, 1929 and 1930, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame with the inaugural class in 1951.
Rockne died at age 43 in a plane crash March 31, 1931, in Bazaar, Kan.