1951 Heisman winner Kazmaier dies
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Dick Kazmaier, a legendary name in both Princeton and college football lore, passed away Thursday at the age of 82.
Kazmaier, the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner and a 1966 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, has been the face of Princeton Football since his days as an undergraduate, when he led Princeton to the 1950 national championship. He is Princeton's only Heisman Trophy winner, and the most recent of three in Ivy League history to win the sport's most prestigious honor.
"Today Princeton University, the Tiger Athletic Program and Tiger Nation are mourning the loss of Dick Kazmaier '52, one of our most accomplished student-athlete icons of the 20th Century," director of athletics Gary Walters said. "In addition to having won the Heisman, No. 42's most enduring trait for me was that he also was a dignified 'Wise Man.'
"Notwithstanding all of the achievements in his athletic, business and philanthropic endeavors, Dick remained one of the most self-effacing individuals I have ever met. He never sought the spotlight and always led in a thoughtful and ethical manner.
"Indeed, Dick was also the father of six daughters and he became a major force behind the scenes as he helped to implement the Title IX Legislation that was passed in 1972 in order to provide equal competitive opportunities for women in college.
"As is the case with many of his Princeton friends, Dick was a personal mentor and advisor for me in my role as athletic director; and I will miss him dearly as a friend."
From the small town of Maumee, Ohio, Kazmaier spent his first year at Princeton fifth on the depth chart. Within two years, he became the ultimate double threat in the single-wing offense of Hall of Fame head coach Charlie Caldwell; by his graduation, he was Princeton's all-time leader in rushing (1,950 yards) and ranked second in passing (2,404 yards). His 59.5 career completion percentage ranks third all-time at Princeton.
While his numbers tell some of the story of his brilliant career, his greatest mark on the program could be found in team accomplishments. Princeton went 18-0 during his final two years, and it won the 1950 national championships based on both the Boand and Poling final polls.
The 1951 season saw Princeton earn another top-10 national ranking, but Kazmaier's individual heroics had more than captivated the nation. Featured on the cover of Time magazine that year, Kazmaier went on to win the Heisman Trophy in a landslide. He earned 1,777 points in the 1951 vote, which at the time was a record by more than 460 points. Kazmaier received 506 first-place votes that season; Tennessee's Hank Lauricella, who placed second in the voting, received 45 first-place votes.
Kazmaier led the nation in both total offense and passing accuracy that season; arguably his greatest performance came in a 53-15 win against then-unbeaten Cornell. He completed 15 of 17 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 124 yards and two more scores.
He had the opportunity to play at the professional level -- the Chicago Bears drafted him -- but he had made up his mind to attend Harvard Business School. Following a three-year stint in the Navy, he returned to the business world and was another remarkable success. He eventually founded Kazmaier Associates Inc., a Concord, Mass. firm that has invested in, managed and consulted for sports marketing and sports product manufacturing and marketing businesses since its founding in 1975.
Kazmaier served his country as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. He also served as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
A friend to both the university and the football program throughout his life, Kazmaier spent time as a university trustee, as well as a member of the Princeton Varsity Club Board of Directors. He sent three of his six daughters to Princeton, and he had visited with the team as recently as prior to the 2011 Harvard game, as well as following the 2010 victory against Lafayette, the first victory for current head coach Bob Surace.
"My admiration for Dick Kazmaier goes well beyond the respect earned by his being the greatest football player in the unmatched history of our Princeton program," Surace said. "Whenever I talk to our team about Dick Kazmaier, it is not about the Heisman, the undefeated seasons, statues or awards. It is about the traits that Dick shared with me in every communication we had, the qualities that make up the ideal Princeton man -- character, dignity, strength, intelligence, humility, unselfishness, commitment and passion to be exceptional in every area of life.
"I will cherish the friendship, support and mentorship that I am fortunate to have with Dick Kazmaier and will pass these values along to our future Tigers," Surace said.
His legacy remains with the university, which retired the number 42 during the fall of 2008; that number was shared by two of its most historic alumni, Kazmaier and Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Bradley.
"It's certainly an honor to have worn the same number as him. He was somebody that I admired [when] playing football in high school and in the sandlot when I was a kid," Bradley said in a 2006 piece for the Daily Princetonian. "He had won the Heisman Trophy, and he went to Princeton, and I wanted to be him."
A statue of the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner rests outside of Jadwin Gym, just south of Princeton Stadium.
"His strongest characteristic was loyalty and his greatest talent was friendship," Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former classmate John McPhee said.
Kazmaier, a psychology major at Princeton, and wife Patricia had six daughters: Kathy L. Donnelly, Kristen Kazmaier Fisher, Michele S. Kazmaier, Patricia J. Kazmaier-Sandt, Susan M. Kazmaier and Kimberly Picard. Three daughters were Princeton graduates, including Patricia, a former women's ice hockey standout. She was a four-year varsity ice hockey letterwinner who anchored the Princeton defense and led the Tigers to the Ivy League championship in three consecutive seasons (1981-82 through 1983-84), while earning multiple league honors.
Patty Kazmaier died of a rare blood disease in 1990. In her honor, Dick Kazmaier, in association with the USA Hockey Foundation, created the Patty Kazmaier Award. First given in 1998, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is presented annually to the top player in Division I women's ice hockey. Other selection criteria include outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Consideration is also given to academic achievement and civic involvement.