New Plex Will Be Named for Connell Family

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Connell Athletic Center

Boston College’s next building will receive a familiar name.

Following a donation of $50 million as part of the “Light the World” campaign, the University will name the replacement for the Flynn Recreation Complex after BC trustee associate Margot C. Connell and her family. Last February, BC Athletics announced the construction of three new buildings—including the baseball and softball fields on Brighton and an indoor practice facility—which noted that the Connell family made the lead donation for the Plex’s replacement, but did not mention that they would receive naming rights. The new building is scheduled to open in fall of 2019.

“Margot has been a matriarch of the BC community who has witnessed first-hand the positive effects that a Jesuit education of the mind, body, and spirit can have on students,” said University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J in a release. “We are grateful to her for her generosity in naming this facility.”

Construction on the new Plex has already begun on the former site of Edmond’s Hall. Amenities include four wood-floor basketball courts, three indoor tennis courts, multipurpose rooms for various fitness classes, a jogging track, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Controversy, however, has surrounded its plans for a new pool, which members of BC swimming and diving, including former head coach Tom Groden, have called insufficient and a threat to the program’s future.

“There are so many students at BC who, while being stars in high school, will not play sports at the Division I level,” Connell said. “So, to have another opportunity to participate in their sport—other through club or recreational activities—or simply to be able to swim if they want to or to try yoga, run, or shoot baskets, is very important to their well-being and overall development.”  

The Connell family also endowed the School of Nursing in 2001 with a $10 million gift following the death of Connell’s husband, William, BC ’59.

Margot, a native of Swampscott, Mass., and a graduate of Michigan State University, serves as chairwoman of Connell Limited Partnerships, a company that repurposes metal and makes industrial equipment, and a director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She has been a benefactor of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

William served as chairman of BC’s Board of Trustees from 1981 to 84 and was the chairman and CEO of Connell Limited Partnership. He also served as a lieutenant in the United States Army and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1963, where the family also made a $10 million gift in 2013.

The couple’s six children also all attended the University: Monica, BC ’88; Lisa, BC ’89; Courtenay, BC ’91; William C., BC ’94; Terence, BC ’02; and Timothy, BC ’03.

“Sports have always been a big part of our family, and Bill and I always felt that sports and recreation provided a physical outlet for students that is very important,” Connell said. “Having already supported an academic endeavor through the School of Nursing, I talked it over with my children and they thought supporting the recreation center was a great idea and something that was needed at Boston College.”

The current Plex is named after William J. Flynn, BC ’39, who served as  BC’s Director of Athletics from 1957 to 1990. Flynn played for BC football and hockey, and served in World War II with the FBI before returning as an assistant football coach in 1945. During his tenure, Flynn brought football, basketball, and hockey to campus—all three played at off-campus sites prior to Flynn’s tenure—with the construction of Alumni Stadium, the Roberts Center, and the McHugh Forum respectively. With a $25 student recreation fee beginning in the 1960s, Flynn built the Plex in 1972. He served as president of the NCAA between 1979-81. BC’s student-athlete scholarship fund also bears Flynn’s name. It is unclear at this time if Flynn’s name will be dedicated elsewhere on campus.

Featured Image Courtesy of the Office of University Communications

Michael Sullivan

Michael Sullivan is the editor-in-chief of The Heights. After shouting out this space to his mother for two years as sports editor, he'd like to give one to his dad. You can follow him on Twitter @MichaelJSully.

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