NATCHITOCHES — Paul Hoolahan, whose shrewd leadership over 19 years has helped keep the Allstate Sugar Bowl among college football’s elite postseason contests, is the 2015 recipient of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award presented by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. The honor was jointly announced Wednesday by Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland and LSWA president Brent St. Germain.
Hoolahan became the Sugar Bowl’s executive director in 1996 and has added the role of chief executive officer of the organization, which not only hosts at least one of college football’s premier games annually but also stages a continuing series of events promoting high school and college sports around the state.
The Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award is presented annually by the LSWA’s 35-member Hall of Fame selection committee to an individual who has played a decisive role as a sports leader or administrator benefiting Louisiana and/or bringing credit to Louisiana on the national and international level. Dixon Award winners are enshrined as Hall of Fame members and are featured in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Natchitoches.
The award is named in honor of Hall of Famer Dave Dixon, the driving force behind bringing the NFL to Louisiana with the creation of the New Orleans Saints franchise.
Hoolahan will be among the 11-man 2015 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class to be spotlighted in the annual induction dinner and ceremonies on Saturday June 27 at the Natchitoches Events Center.
Hoolahan has directed the bowl’s operations for 21 bowls, including five national championship games during his tenure in New Orleans.
While successfully hosting multiple bowls and national championships, Hoolahan has maintained the bowl’s status as one of the premier bowl games in the nation. Most recently, he brokered an arrangement with the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 to host the top available teams from each conference in the Sugar Bowl through 2025 — except for when hosting four College Football Playoff national semifinal games, as it did in 2015.
In Hoolahan’s nearly two decades with the Sugar Bowl, the organization has generated well over $2 billion for the local economy.