Dr. Howard Sweeney
Although his "official" tenure working with Wildcat athletics ran for 38 years, Sweeney has been affiliated with Northwestern for more than 60 years, beginning with his enrollment in the University's pre-medicine program in 1943. He officially retired from his post as head team physician, an appointment that began in 1984, on June 7, 2002.
When mentioning Sweeney and his contributions to Northwestern's athletics program, it is difficult to know where to begin. But there are some words that sum up Sweeney and his career at Northwestern: passionate, dedicated, full of integrity, caring, intelligent, wise and ethical.
"'Doc' has infinite wisdom," said Tory Aggeler, former Northwestern head athletic trainer, at the time of Sweeney's retirement. "The greatest effect he's had at Northwestern, in my opinion, has been mastering a sound ethical base. He is a father figure and a confidant, and someone you could always look to for direction."
Besides helping thousands of Northwestern student-athletes return to the playing fields and courts following injury, Sweeney has spent his entire life helping others. One of his most significant contributions to the medical field and society was the starting of the Global Arthroscopy Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation which brings fellows from other countries to Chicago, where Sweeney and others have helped provide instruction on arthroscopic surgery.
In addition to the caring of student-athletes, the instruction and guidance that Sweeney has provided for members of Northwestern's sports medicine staff and its many interns and student athletic trainers has been tremendous. In 2004, Northwestern's sports medicine department began recognizing two undergraduate students with the Howard Sweeney Award of Excellence, which goes to two aides who demonstrate excellence in skill proficiency, professionalism and dedication during their undergraduate days.
Sweeney and his wife, Kathleen, have 10 children.