VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University President, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, announced a $22.6 million total leadership gift from alumnus William B. Finneran ’63, for the advancement of its strategic plan for a renovation of the Pavilion as well as programmatic support for its men’s basketball program. This marks the largest gift ever to Villanova Athletics and propels the University forward, adding to the excitement and momentum generated from winning the 2016 National Championship.
Finneran, a 1963 Villanova alumnus with an Economics degree, is a long-standing supporter and advocate for the University, serving as a Trustee through 2008 and as a campaign chair for the previous Capital Campaign. To mark his impressive contributions, Finneran was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University in 1994. A passionate supporter of the Athletic program, Finneran previously endowed the men’s basketball head coaching position at Villanova.
“Bill’s generous commitment comes at a truly exciting time for Villanova University, and in particular our men’s basketball program,” said Father Donohue. “After the team captured the 2016 NCAA National Championship, the enthusiasm surrounding our University is at an all-time high. Given Villanova’s increased visibility nationally—and the world-class stature of our Athletics program—this remarkable gift allows Villanova to continue its forward momentum and further solidify our reputation as a national powerhouse in academics and athletics.”
“The Pavilion is a critical initiative for Villanova Athletics and our men’s basketball program, and I’m proud to help move it forward,” said William B. Finneran ’63 VSB alumnus and former University trustee. “Given Villanova’s visibility nationally and the world-class stature of men’s basketball, this renovation is incredibly important for our student-athletes and coaches, as well as all Wildcat fans.”
The gift adds to the significant momentum of the men’s basketball program, which in addition to capturing this year’s National Championship, leads the nation with 97 wins over the last three seasons. In the classroom, head coach Jay Wright’s players are also among an elite group. Villanova ranked in the top 10 percent of their sport nationwide in the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) data released by the NCAA. In addition, Villanova was one of only 11 schools in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to have a 100 percent graduation success rate.
“Bill’s gift is another step in his significant commitment to Villanova University and his love of Villanova Basketball,” said Jay Wright, Men’s Basketball Head Coach. “I am honored to be the William B. Finneran Endowed Athletic Fund Head Coach and proud to have Bill as a visionary leader for our program and a close friend to Patty and me. Bill’s continued generosity allows us to create a basketball experience on campus that matches our great tradition.”
The Pavilion, which opened in 1986, is one of Villanova’s signature facilities. It has a rich history, serving as the home arena for the men’s and women’s basketball programs, a training resource for student-athletes across the spectrum of varsity and intramural sports, and a venue for high-visibility University programs and events.
Redesigning the Pavilion will enhance Villanova’s ability to recruit and train the nation’s best and brightest student-athletes. It will create a high-quality, game-day experience for fans while also providing a tremendous home-court advantage. A transformation of The Pavilion will also support the facility’s use as a key space for University activities, including commencement events and Special Olympics. In addition, Finneran’s gift will create programmatic endowments to help support the day-to-day operations of the men's basketball program, allowing it to compete at the highest level of Division I basketball.
Planning phases for The Pavilion renovation will begin immediately and continue throughout 2016. The process is designed to be inclusive amongst the Villanova community, season ticketholders and Wildcat fans, and will include market feasibility studies, focus groups and surveys.
“Bill’s gift allows us to move forward and begin an inclusive and strategic planning process to redevelop The Pavilion for our flagship basketball program,” said Mark Jackson, Director of Athletics. “A transformation of this venue creates an exciting environment for the entire Nova Nation and tremendously benefits our programs and student-athletes.”
Since the launch of its $600 million Comprehensive Capital Campaign, “For the Greater Great®: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change” in October 2013, the University has raised $530 million, including more than $90 million for athletics. The fundraising efforts for Villanova Athletics are an integral part of the University’s fundraising efforts to support the Villanova Campaign and Strategic Plan.
“This leadership gift like from Bill demonstrates the deep commitment Villanovans have to the student-athlete experience,” said Michael J. O’Neill, Senior Vice President for University Advancement. “Improving the game-day experience at The Pavilion will be a tremendous benefit to the Villanova community. We are grateful for Bill’s support and for the support of all donors who have given so much to our athletics programs.”
William B. Finneran ’63 VSB, is Chairman and Managing Director of EXOP Capital, LLC, a long/short hedge fund firm based in New York City, which he co-founded in 2005. Since 1991, Finneran has also served as Chairman of Edison Control Corporation and Con Forms Industries, which designs, manufactures and distributes concrete pumping systems and accessories. In addition, he serves as an Operating Partner of Global Leisure Partners, a provider of advisory and investment services to the global leisure industry. Prior to founding EXOP Capital, Finneran served as a Managing Director at Wachovia Securities. Before joining Wachovia in 1999, he was a Managing Director at CIBC Oppenheimer Corp., an investment-banking firm, and had been employed with Oppenheimer since 1972.
Finneran served on the Board of Trustees at Villanova University for 10 years and co-chaired Villanova’s previous Capital Campaign, “Transforming Minds and Hearts: The Campaign for Villanova.” He is currently a member of Villanova’s prestigious Carr and Heritage Societies, which recognize the lasting impact of dedicated alumni, parents and friends on the University.
Finneran currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Ireland - U.S. Council, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Partnership Schools, a school management organization for a network of six inner-city Catholic elementary schools in Harlem and the south Bronx. In addition, he is a member of the Board of Governors of Operation Smile, which raises funds and manages the medical missions where indigent children are treated. Finneran resides in Palm Beach, Fla.
About The Pavilion: Home to the Villanova men’s and women’s basketball programs, The Pavilion is a 6,500-seat venue that has become one of the most exciting in the BIG EAST. More than 1.9 million people have passed through The Pavilion’s doors for men’s basketball games since it opened in 1986. Beyond basketball, The Pavilion is a training resource for student-athletes across the spectrum of varsity and intramural sports. It also hosts a broad range of events that touch the entire Villanova community, including commencement events, reunion celebrations, student-recruitment events, concerts, Special Olympics, Relay for Life and more.
About Villanova Athletics: Villanova University has a long and storied athletics history defined by excellence both in competition and in the classroom. The Villanova Athletics Department is a community of student-athletes, coaches and staff whose primary focus is to achieve academic excellence, while striving to produce teams and individuals committed to athletic competition and outstanding performance. Villanova Athletics sponsors 24 varsity sports, which together include more than 500 student-athletes. In the classroom, these Villanova student-athletes have registered a grade-point average higher than a 3.0 for 25 consecutive semesters. Three Villanova student-athletes have been named Rhodes Scholars, with numerous others earning Academic All-America distinction. Villanova’s athletics history includes 20 NCAA team national championships, as well as 100 conference championships. In addition, at least one Villanovan has participated in every Summer Olympics since 1948. Villanova is a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Colonial Athletic Association (Football) and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (Women's Water Polo).
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.