The Business of Notre Dame Athletics: Fifth of a six-part series
A South Bend native, John Heisler is in his 36th year as a member of the Notre Dame athletic staff - including 16 years as sports information director at Notre Dame after spending 10 previous years as a member of the sports publicity staff. He added the title of assistant athletics director in 1995, and then was named an associate athletics director in 2001. Heisler was promoted to his current position as senior associate athletics director in October 2004.
He has administrative duties working with the men's lacrosse program, and also has responsibility in the areas of media relations, contest scheduling, broadcast properties and assists with various external events. He is also a key department liaison to Notre Dame Sports Properties, the athletic marketing branch of the department, and its manager Scott Corriera. Heisler is assisting in developing expansion of the department's digital asset management capabilities. He also edits the athletic department's award-winning annual "Strong of Heart" publication.
Heisler originally joined the athletic staff in April 1978 as assistant sports information director and was promoted to associate director in July 1982 under former longtime sports information director Roger Valdiserri.
Heisler helped edit a variety of award-winning publications during his career, including 25 judged best in the nation by College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) panels. He worked primarily with the Notre Dame football and basketball programs following his promotion to associate sports information director, producing nine top-ranked football media guides and four more in basketball.
He also has edited Irish football highlight films and coordinated production of various other Notre Dame video products and merchandise. He has done color analysis of Notre Dame basketball games on both radio and television.
Heisler spent four years working in the University of Missouri sports information office as a student, handling publicity for basketball and non-revenue sports. Following his graduation from the School of Journalism in December 1976, he was named the first full-time assistant to Missouri sports information director Bill Callahan, then moved to Notre Dame one year later. He helped direct research operations in Los Angeles for ABC Sports coverage of the 1984 Summer Olympics, worked with NBC Sports as an administrator of its research operation for its coverage of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and served as network liaison with ABC Sports for its coverage of the 1987 International Summer Special Olympics at Notre Dame.
Heisler has written, co-written or edited 10 books on Notre Dame football. He assisted former Irish coach Lou Holtz in the writing of "The Fighting Spirit," the best-selling story of Notre Dame's '88 national championship football season and edited "Quotable Rockne," a book of Knute Rockne quotations published in 2001. Heisler collaborated with former Irish coach Gerry Faust and Chicago sportswriter Bob Logan on "Gerry Faust's Tales from the Notre Dame Sideline," in 2004 and edited "Echoes of Notre Dame Football," published in 2005. In 2007 he edited "Then Ara said to Joe," a collection of tales about Notre Dame football -- and also authored "University of Notre Dame Football Vault," a coffee-table-style scrapbook history of Notre Dame football. In 2008, he wrote "Greatest Moments in Notre Dame Football History" -- and in 2009 he wrote "100 Things Notre Dame Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die," (rereleased in 2013). In 2012 he collaborated with Tim Prister on "Always Fighting Irish."
Heisler served as media coordinator for NCAA men's basketball tournament games at Notre Dame in 1985 and 1988 and has worked at five NCAA Final Four events. He helped initiate the CoSIDA writing contest as part of his longtime involvement with the writing committee that promotes excellence in writing among CoSIDA members. In 2003, he was inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame, received the Heisman Memorial Trophy Excellence Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to collegiate football and the Scoop Hudgins Outstanding Sports Information Director Award from the All-American Football Foundation. In June '04, he also received the CoSIDA 25-Year Award. In 2009, Heisler received the Bob Williams Helping Hand Award from the Indiana Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association.
In 1994, he received the Special Presidential Award from Notre Dame president Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., and was awarded an honorary monogram by the Notre Dame Monogram Club in 1991.
Born Nov. 13, 1954, Heisler and his wife, Karen, are parents of two sons, Scott and Timothy.