Former Gopher Tony Dungy will receive the prestigious Theodore Roosevelt Award on Friday, Jan. 18, at the NCAA Convention in Grapevine, Texas.
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and Director of Gopher Athletics Norwood Teague will attend and Kaler will present Dungy with the award. The accolade, named after President Theodore Roosevelt, is the NCAA’s highest honor and is given annually to an individual “for whom competitive athletics in college and attention to physical well-being thereafter have been important factors in a distinguished career of national significance and achievement.”
“We are proud and honored to call Tony Dungy an alumnus of the University of Minnesota,” said U President Eric Kaler. “Tony personifies what we seek to instill in our classrooms and on our playing fields: innovative thinking, influential teaching and inspirational leadership. The entire University of Minnesota community takes great joy in this remarkable tribute to one of our own.”
Dungy starred for the Gophers at quarterback from 1973-76 and was a two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection. He graduated from the university in 1978 with a degree in business. Dungy went on to win Super Bowl XIII as a player for the Pittsburgh Steelers and coached the Indianapolis Colts to a championship in Super Bowl XLI.
Despite his football accomplishments, Dungy has never been just a football player or a coach. The game has helped shape him, but has never defined him. Dungy learned from Gopher coach Cal Stoll and Pittsburgh coach Chuck Knoll that being a football player or coach would never be enough. He had to be more. He had to do more.
“Both of those coaches told me that football would be with me only for a short time,” Dungy recently told NCAA.com. “But getting ready for your life, and how you can make an impact off the field, is really what’s important.”
Stoll and Knoll were right, as Dungy’s most lasting legacy will be the work he does through his Dungy Family Foundation. The Foundation aims to strengthen, sustain and empower communities by providing educational, emotional, spiritual and financial support to those in need. The Foundation, which focuses heavily on the Twin Cities, Pittsburgh, Tampa (Dungy coached the Buccaneers from 1996-2001) and Indianapolis, collaborates with existing community organizations to educate youth and those less fortunate.
Dungy also serves as a national spokesman for Basket of Hope, which provides spiritual support to children diagnosed with cancer or other serious illnesses and to their families, primarily by delivering baskets filled with inspirational materials.
Dungy grew up in Michigan before attending the University of Minnesota. His father, Wilber, was a Wolverine, while his mother, Cleomae, was a Spartan. While a Gopher, Dungy used the university’s academic and athletic programs to grow as a football player and a person.
“The greatest thing for me going to college was learning about decision-making,” Dungy told NCAA.com. “You are making decisions about what academic path you are going to take, and what friends you build relationships with. You learn how to handle your personal life and process information. That is what college was all about for me.
“When you choose where to go to college, you dream and hope for the best. You never would think something like this (being honored) would be in store for you later in life. This is a product of my decision to go to the University of Minnesota.”
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