Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation Announces Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for the California High School Football Hall of Fame at America’s Stadium
July 26, 2023
The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation has announced a private ribbon-cutting and opening ceremony to dedicate the California High School Football Hall of Fame at the Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday, August 26. The project, which was established as a result of two leadership pledges to the Foundation from prominent philanthropists and business leaders Brian Panish and Mickey Segal, will be formally dedicated on the opening weekend of the 2023 college football season.
PASADENA, Calif. (July 26, 2023) The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation has announced a private ribbon-cutting and opening ceremony to dedicate the California High School Football Hall of Fame at the Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday, August 26. The project, which was established as a result of two leadership pledges to the Foundation from prominent philanthropists and business leaders Brian Panish and Mickey Segal, will be formally dedicated on the opening weekend of the 2023 college football season. Philanthropist and ardent Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation supporter Brian Kennedy also provided a key commitment to elevate the project’s impact.
While the ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 26th will be private for invited guests and media, the project will be open to the public starting September 1st as part of the Stadium’s tour program on the last Friday of the month and on UCLA game days this Fall. A formal induction ceremony to honor the inaugural hall of fame class will be held in the Spring of 2024.
“When scanning the names of California High School Football Hall of Fame inductees, it quickly becomes obvious this is a national-caliber ‘who’s who’ list of players, many who also went on to make significant contributions in the college game, the pros and – for a truly impressive number – all the way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We join in celebrating these outstanding achievers,” said Jim Porter, President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The establishment of the California High School Football Hall of Fame, a Legacy Foundation project, will be opened in partnership with the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the National Football Foundation (NFF), the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Stadium. The project will honor the history, quality, and overall impact of players, coaches, and integral moments that have shaped the landscape of high school football in the state.
“The CIF is honored to be part of the California High School Football Hall of Fame,” said Executive Director of the CIF, Ron Nocetti. “We thank the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation for their extraordinary efforts in bringing this project to fruition and look forward to the ribbon cutting ceremony at the iconic Rose Bowl.”
Led by the CIF and Legacy Foundation, in conjunction with the Rose Bowl Stadium and NFF, a selection committee was formed representing all ten CIF state sections. Following consideration of public nominations, the committee selected the inaugural class which includes 100 players and 13 coaches. The 100 players in the inaugural class is representative of the Stadium’s recent centennial birthday that was celebrated in 2022-23. The inaugural class also includes four award winners for various characteristics related to high school football in the state.
The four inaugural award winners have provided incredible support for high school football in the state of California. They are:
Golden State Award - The Golden State Award is the highest individual award given by the California High School Football Hall of Fame and recognizes an outstanding Californian who has contributed significantly to the sport of football in our country.
- Awardee: Pete Rozelle, former NFL Commissioner – A graduate of Compton High School (1944), Rozelle served as the Commissioner of the NFL for 30 years, oversaw the creation of Monday Night Football and the merger of the AFL-NFL in 1970. Pete was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame while still commissioner in 1985 and the Pete Rozelle Trophy was established in 1990 by the NFL to honor the Super Bowl MVP.
Terry Donahue Leadership Award – Named after the Hall of Fame record-holding coach from UCLA, the Terry Donahue Leadership Award is an individual award given by the California High School Football Hall of Fame that acknowledges and celebrates exemplary leadership by a California native that has a significant and positive impact on advancing the game of football through youth and communities.
- Awardee: Pete Saco, former CIF Commissioner of the San Joaquin Section – Saco spent 21 years as the CIF San Joaquin Section Commissioner (1993-2014) and overall 40 years in education. Pete proposed the return of regional and state football championships after a 79-year gap (1928-2005) and proposed the creation of an “Open Division” in state football. Saco served as the state football championships Event Director during the three years games were played at Hornet Stadium at Sac State University. He is a former high school teacher, coach, athletic director and vice principal.
Champion of Success Award - The Champion of Success Award is an individual or organizational award given by the California High School Football Hall of Fame that acknowledges an administrator, teacher, volunteer, official, community member or citizen that has demonstrated a commitment to the development, mentorship and advancement of youth and community sports in California, most notably through football.
- Awardee: Dean Crowley, former Commissioner of the CIF Southern Section – Crowley spent 7 years as the CIF-SS Commissioner (1994-99) and 18 years as the CIF-SS Assistant Commissioner. Overall, Dean contributed 60 years serving the youth of California as an elementary, intermediate, and high school teacher, a high school coach, vice principal and an NCAA referee. As an NCAA referee, he worked several bowl games including the Freedom Bowl. He was the Championships Event Supervisor of the CIF State Bowl games during inception (2006) until a move to Sacramento State in 2014.
Impact in Sports Journalism Award - The Impact in Sports Journalism Award is an individual or organizational award given by the California High School Football Hall of Fame that acknowledges those that utilize the reach and positive influence of the journalistic influence to promote and advance the sport of football in the State of California, particularly on the high school level.
- Awardee: Eric Sondheimer, Prep Sports Editor – Los Angeles Times – As the Prep Sports Columnist for the Times, Eric has been honored seven times by the California Prep Sportswriters Association for ‘best prep sports column.’ Sondheimer joined the Daily News as Prep Editor in 1980 and spent 18 months as the West Coast Correspondent for the National Sports Daily. Returning to the Daily News from 1991-97, Eric joined the Times in 1997 to cover high school sports. He has covered California high school sports for more than 40 years and is a member of the CIF Los Angeles City Section Hall of Fame (2019).
Subsequent classes will be selected every other year moving forward and will be of more normal size. The public will have an opportunity in late-2023 to begin submitting nominations for the Class of 2024.
“The addition of the California High School Football Hall of Fame provides a powerful new platform for honoring elite players who got their start in the Golden State,” said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. “Recognizing the greatest high school players from California and capturing their stories will inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps. We applaud The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation for their leadership in highlighting the role high school football plays in developing our nation’s youth. We salute all those involved and offer our biggest congratulations to the inaugural class of inductees.”
The foundational donors to the project, Panish and Segal, have regularly supported Legacy’s efforts to preserve, protect, and enhance the Rose Bowl Stadium’s future over the years, both consider their time on the gridiron as value-shaping experiences that have crafted very successful careers.
Panish, a former football student-athlete at St. John Bosco in Bellflower and Fresno State, has been involved in football for his entire life. Bosco’s state-of-the-art stadium in Bellflower bears the Panish family’s name. Panish is an Advisory Board member for the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation as part of a group continuing to preserve, protect, and enhance the future of the venue. His competitive passion under the helmet has led to his leadership as the Founding Partner at Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP where he has become a national leader in his own right by obtaining some of the most significant jury verdicts and settlements in U.S. history on behalf of plaintiffs.
Segal is a former football student-athlete at local Pasadena High School and played under legendary coach Tom Hamilton for which tunnel 4 at the Rose Bowl is named. The PHS Bulldogs compete annually on the hallowed Rose Bowl turf as part of the Turkey Tussle against rivals John Muir High School, the alma mater of the great Jackie Robinson. Segal is currently the President of the Legacy Foundation’s Board of Directors and is the Chair of its ongoing capital campaign in honor of the venue’s centennial. He has been involved with the Foundation since its inception in 2010 and has heavily committed to the Stadium’s heritage including a 2017 major gift to renovate and open one of the Rose Bowl’s original locker rooms as a museum. Mickey is a Founder and Managing Partner of NKSFB, building a firm that started in 1981 into the largest business management firm in the United States.
“This project will appropriately recognize the players, coaches, administrators, and so many more contributors that have positively shaped the lives of so many on the football field during the formative high school years,” Panish and Segal said in a joint statement about the project. “Understanding the Rose Bowl Stadium’s rich history and experience with generational moments rooted in football, there is no better place in the State of California to house the high school football hall of fame.”
The project also received a key commitment from Brian Kennedy, a Los Angeles-based philanthropist who has supported the Rose Bowl Stadium’s initiatives greatly over the years. Kennedy’s gift supplemented the other project pledges and ensures the Hall of Fame will be special for years to come.
“After much anticipation, planning and thoughtfulness by a team of people, we are excited to open another great space at America’s Stadium for the enjoyment of our visitors,” said Dedan Brozino, President of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation. “The Rose Bowl is the most appropriate home for this Hall of Fame, and we are looking forward to the partnership with the CIF, the National Football Foundation, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the media, and the state’s many football communities to deliver an exciting project amid the venue’s centennial. We are humbled by the leadership gifts provided by Mickey, Brian (Panish) and Brian (Kennedy) which will undoubtedly result in the public enjoyment of the state’s football legacy for years to come.”