Former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes once called Archie Griffin “a better young man than a football player” — and the best football player he’d ever seen.
Griffin was the only player ever to win the Heisman Trophy Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding college football player, twice — in 1974 and 1975.
To honor Griffin and his accomplishments, an anonymous donor gave $2 million to split between the Ohio Union and OSU Alumni Association.
The donors “are friends of the university and they are friends of mine,” Griffin said. “They just want to show their love for the university and show appreciation for the things I accomplished as a student, administrator and now president of the Alumni Association.”
A ballroom in the Ohio Union will be dedicated to Griffin at 4:15 p.m. today.
“I’m extremely honored to have something in the Union named in my honor,” Griffin said. “I’m really thankful to the donors and to the university for making it possible.”
The new union is expected to open this spring following a three-year, $118 million construction project.
“Any time your name is associated with the union, you know you are
associated with an important part of the university.” Griffin said. “It is quite an honor and I am thrilled and humbled by the whole works.”
Joining Griffin during the announcement will be Peter Weiler, senior vice president for University Development and president of the Ohio State University Foundation, and Tracy Stuck, assistant vice president for the Office of Student Life and director of the Ohio Union.
“We have had great athletes here, but we haven’t had great athletes that have done as much for the university,” Weiler said. “He has taken what was a great football career and done something to elevate the university.”
Stuck said that although Griffin was a great athlete, he also projects a positive, “pay it forward” spirit.
“He is kind of [the Union’s] iconic figure,” Stuck said. “He has gone out and done service projects and is one of the most gracious people I’ve ever met. He embodies everything that is Ohio State.”
Griffin joined the OSU staff in 1984, two years after retiring from his seven-year NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
He worked in Human Resources for one year, followed by 19 years in athletics, and has served as Alumni Association president since 2004.
“Our main mission is to keep our alumni connected to the university,” Griffin said. “Our Alumni Association is a great way for alumni to connect with Ohio State and each other, and to serve the university.”
Stuck said Griffin also has a passion for students.
“Students are alumni in training, so we want them to have some connection to the Alumni Association while they are here,” Griffin said.
The Alumni Association has about 120,000 members.