PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — Dick Kazmaier, the last Ivy League football player to win the Heisman Trophy, has died. He was 82.
Susan Kazmaier said Friday that her father died of natural causes Thursday at a Boston hospital. He had been living in Concord, Mass.
Kazmaier played halfback for Princeton and as a senior in 1951 won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide, receiving 506 first-place votes and 1,777 points, which was a record at the time. He also won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best player, and was The Associated Press male athlete of the year.
In his final two college seasons, the Tigers went 18-0. When he was done playing, he was Princeton’s career leader in yards rushing (1,950) and ranked second in yards passing (2,404). His career completion percentage of 59.5 still ranks third at Princeton.
He was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1966 and in 2008 Princeton retired his No. 42, a jersey number also worn by Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Bradley.
“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,” Princeton Athletic Director Gary Walters said in a statement. “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.”
Three of Kazmaier’s six daughters with wife Patricia graduated from Princeton, including Patty Kazmaier, who played hockey for the Tigers and helped them to three consecutive Ivy League championships in the early 1980s.
After Patty died of a rare blood disease in 1990, Dick Kazmaier and the USA Hockey Foundation created the Patty Kazmaier Award, which has been given to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey since 1998.
Kazmaier was an Ohio native from the small town of Maumee. After his brilliant career at Princeton, he passed on chance to play in the NFL after being drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1952. Instead, he attended business school at Harvard. He also served three years in the Navy.
“His strongest characteristic was loyalty and his greatest talent was friendship,” Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former classmate John McPhee said in a statement released by the school.
Kazmaier went on to found Kazmaier Associates, Inc., an investment and consulting firm that specializes in sports marketing and products and is based in Concord, Mass.
“Even if my dad was your average Joe the plumber I would have loved him just as much,” Susan Kazmaier said in a brief telephone interview Friday. “He was a very caring and supportive father. In this daughter’s heart, he was just Dad.”
Kazmaier served as president of the National Football Foundation, which runs the College Hall of Fame, from 1974-84 and was chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
“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 told the Daily Princetonian in 2006. “He had won the Heisman Trophy, and he went to Princeton, and I wanted to be him.”