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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Dick Vitale and wife donate $1 million for student scholarships

ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale and his wife, Lorraine, donated $1 million to Notre Dame, the University announced in late September. Their gift will fund the creation of the Dick Vitale Family Spirit Scholarship.

Although neither Dick Vitale nor his wife attended the University, Vitale said they both have strong ties to Notre Dame.

“I formed a connection to Notre Dame because both of my daughters, Terri and Sherri, became students at Notre Dame in the mid-90s and loved the school so much that they became ‘Double Domers,’” Vitale said. “Notre Dame runs deep in our family.”

The scholarship fund is geared towards undergraduate students who have demonstrated need, and preference is given to those who are members of spirit groups on campus such as the marching band, Irish Guard, Irish Dance Team and the cheerleading squad.

“I love the University — I love everything it stands for,” Vitale said. “I believe in Notre Dame’s quality of education. The young people that go there put together such an incredible résumé to be able to be admitted to the University, and I just wanted to maybe be able to bring a little happiness to some youngster who needed financial help.”

The focus on athletic spirit groups stems from Vitale’s long-time involvement in collegiate athletics.

Vitale graduated from Seton Hall University in 1963 and received his master’s degree in education from William Paterson University. He coached basketball at the University of Detroit from 1973-1977 and went on to be head coach of the Detroit Pistons in 1978. 

Vitale said both of his daughters were also involved in athletics during their time at Notre Dame.

“They played tennis on the varsity tennis team and were scholarship athletes and married two guys that were also students at Notre Dame,” Vitale said.

Vitale said his connection to Notre Dame remains among his few favorites, despite the ties he has created to many other universities and colleges throughout his career.

“I am very proud that I received an honorary alumni degree in 1997 and have been very active speaking at the pep rallies and on the campus on a regular basis as much as I can,” Vitale said. “It is everything about people who really, really want to make something of their lives, who have really put together a dedicated plan to the game of life and are really dedicated to pursuing their dreams to the best of their abilities.”

Vitale said his hope is that this scholarship fund will allow students to accomplish great things in both athletics and in spirit activities, just as Vitale has been able to do himself.

“I have been blessed in my life financially and in many ways,” he said. “I just love giving back. Notre Dame represents all that’s good about an education. I hope that these students go on to chase their dreams and goals and pursue them to the best of their ability and be able to, later in life, do the same for someone else — to be able to give back”