“@CoachLouHoltz88, Barbara & I send heartfelt congrats on your Presidential Medal of Freedom! Great honor for a great coach and an even better person. What a terrific speech at the @WhiteHouse! You‘ve used your platform to inspire, motivate, educate & touch lives nationwide,” the golf legend tweeted.
President George W. Bush honored Nicklaus with the award in 2005.
Holtz said he was humbled and honored to receive the award.
“It’s the highest honor or award you could possibly receive and I receive it with mixed emotions,” Holtz told Fox News from the White House, according to USA Today. “First of all, I’m humbled. There are many more people far worthy than me I can assure you: Nobody is more appreciative than me.”
The President of the United States awards the Medal of Freedom “to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Trump Explains Why He Chose Lou Holtz
During the ceremony, Trump called Lou Holtz a friend and an incredible leader. Holtz was a major Trump supporter during his failed re-election campaign.
“Incredible leader, Lou Holtz. I’ve known him for a long time, he’s been a friend of mine,” the president said, according to the White House. “I think I’ve received letters from every football coach, almost, in the nation. That’s a little exaggeration, but some of the greats. Nick Saban wrote a letter, Coach O (Ed Orgeron) and Urban Meyer wrote a beautiful letter. So many of the other great, legendary coaches.”
You can read the full remarks here.
A statement from the White House calls Holtz one of the greatest football coaches of all time.
The numbers bear that out. The West Virginia native is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He won 249 games, 12 bowl games. He led Notre Dame to its most recent National Championship in 1988. And he is the only coach to lead 6 different teams in a career to a bowl game, The Presidential Medal of Freedom website says. Since leaving coaching, he’s remained a commentator for the sport. But he’s also been a motivational speaker and philanthropist.
Before becoming a football coach, Holtz was an officer for the United States Army Reserve.
“I was taught at an early age that I had an obligation to serve my country,” Holtz says of the award.