Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Paul Hoolahan Named 2019 Legacy Award Winner by FBA
HOUSTON (April 12, 2019) – Paul Hoolahan, who became the executive director of the Sugar Bowl in 1996, is this year’s recipient of the Football Bowl Association’s prestigious Legacy Award. The award, which is bestowed upon ”individuals with distinguished service within the bowl industry,” was officially presented at the FBA Honors Reception and Dinner on Thursday evening in Houston. Archie Manning and Tom Osborne were also recognized at the event. The 2019 Legacy Award was presented by FBA executive committee chairman David Fletcher, the executive director of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl.
Hoolahan, the chief executive officer of the Sugar Bowl, announced his retirement effective June 30 this past fall. He has directed the bowl’s operations for five national championship games during his tenure in New Orleans. They include 1997, Florida over Florida State; 2000, Florida over Virginia Tech; 2004, LSU over Oklahoma; 2008, LSU over Ohio State; and 2012, Alabama over LSU.
”Paul’s achievements with the Sugar Bowl speak loudly,” said FBA Executive Director Wright Waters. “He and his talented staff have set a standard of excellence within our industry. The Sugar Bowl is a year-round enterprise in New Orleans and throughout the South. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Legacy Award than Paul.”
Hoolahan’s tenure with the Sugar Bowl has been defined by maintaining the bowl’s status as one of the premier bowl games in the nation. Most recently, Hoolahan spearheaded the New Orleans Host Committee’s successful bid to win the hosting rights for the 2020 College Football Playoff national championship.
He also worked in conjunction with the game’s executive committee to finalize an arrangement with both the SEC and Big 12 Conferences to host the top available teams from each league eight times over a 12-year period [2013-25 seasons]. The Sugar Bowl is additionally slated for four national semifinal games [2015, ’18, ’21 and ’24].
With the college contest as the centerpiece of the Sugar Bowl’s year-round efforts, Hoolahan has been at the forefront of competitions at both the prep and intercollegiate levels. During his tenure, the bowl has nearly tripled its number of ancillary community events to the current level of 50 annual competitions and ceremonies.
Hoolahan played college football at North Carolina, where he was an all-ACC lineman who blocked for Hall of Fame tailback Don McCauley. He later coached high school football at his alma mater, St. Francis Prep in suburban New York City, a perennial power where the late Vince Lombardi also once coached.
Hoolahan served as Vanderbilt University’s director of athletics beginning in 1990. His Commodores career was marked by significant improvement in the department’s business operation, considerable fund-raising expansion efforts and upgrades of existing athletic facilities as well as the construction of state-of-the-art replacements.
He was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and has long been involved with both the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Now in its fourth year, the FBA Legacy Award debuted in 2016. Previous honorees include:
2016 – Bruce Binkowski, Holiday Bowl executive director [retired] Gary Cavalli, San Francisco Bowl executive director [retired] 2017 – Bud Dudley, Liberty Bowl executive director [deceased] William Flinn, Rose Bowl executive director [retired] 2018 – Fred Digby, New Orleans Item sports editor [deceased] Warren Miller, New Orleans Mid-Winter Sports Association [deceased] Field Scovell, Cotton Bowl team selection chairman [deceased] Earnie Seiler, Orange Bowl Festival founder [deceased]