Dick Kazmaier ’52 in 1951.
Dick Kazmaier ’52 in 1951.
AP Images/John Rooney

In 1951, college sports were tarnished by high-profile scandals including academic cheating and basketball point-shaving. Against that backdrop, Princeton halfback Dick Kazmaier ’52 emerged as a shining representation of what college athletes still could be: studious, talented, and, to borrow from Time magazine’s description, “neat as a pin.” He directed the Tigers’ single-wing offense to consecutive undefeated seasons, winning three of college football’s top individual awards — the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Trophy — in his senior year. 

Kazmaier, who died Aug. 1 at age 82, is widely remembered for his Heisman selection, but his life was not defined by football. After being drafted by the Chicago Bears, he bypassed the NFL to pursue an MBA at Harvard and a distinguished career in business. He championed women’s athletics and chaired the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. 

In 2008, the University honored Kazmaier and former basketball standout Bill Bradley ’65 by retiring No. 42 — worn by both stars — for all Princeton teams. Kazmaier, voted “most modest” by his classmates as an undergrad, continued to deflect accolades more than 50 years after his final game. “Even though the ball was in my possession for much of the time, there were 11 players all doing their part in unison,” he said at the ceremony. “To all I played with during that remarkable period in our lives, I say ‘thank you.’”