University renames athletic field house

     The University recently announced that the Athletic Field House, which is currently under construction, will be named for the family of Donald and Eleanor Taffner.

     Eleanor Taffner, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, and husband Donald Taffner, an alumnus, have long been supporters of the University and, more specifically, its athletic programs.

     “We are delighted to honor Eleanor and Don and their family in this special and lasting way,” University president, the Rev. Donald J. Harrington, said. “We thank them for their continued support of our students and for their unwavering commitment to our mission of service to those in need.”

     “We’re honored to have our family’s name on this magnificent building,” said Donald Taffner. “This will be a place where all students can come to play and relax. It will also be a place where our wonderful varsity teams can continue on their path of success. We thank Father Harrington and the University for remembering us in this wonderful way.”

     The $12 million, 38,000 square foot Taffner Field House, scheduled to open in the fall, will provide the much-needed space and facilities to give athletic, academic, and medical support to the University’s many student-athletes.

     Space has been designated within the Field House for four full-size basketball courts — two for Student Life and two for Varsity basketball; academic support classrooms; study space for student-athletes; office and meeting space designated for Recreation and Intramural Sports; audio/visual rooms for all varsity athletic teams; dedicated locker rooms for both student recreation and men’s and women’s basketball; new offices and meeting rooms for men’s and women’s basketball; and weight training and medical training rooms.

     “The mantra I have is, ‘Cutting edge, first class in all the support areas so student-athletes can compete and coaches can coach,’” Chris Monasch, University athletic director, said in the New York Post. “That sounds kind of like athletic administration 101, but after all the contemporary trends, that still is the basis of what has to happen for teams to be successful.”

     The University had previously announced that the Field House would be named for the family of James P. Riley, an alumnus who made a multi-million dollar donation to St. John’s. As reported in the June 3 edition of the New York Post, “a rift developed between Riley and St. John’s when the University hired Norm Roberts over Matt Doherty, a close friend of Riley’s.”

     Thus the Riley family, who were originally interested in the project, have chosen to focus their continuing philanthropic endeavors on other areas. The Rileys have decided to dedicate their contributions to scholarships as well as academic and Vincentian projects, more consistent with their past support.

     Over the years, the Riley family has helped support the student managed investment fund, the Freshmen Center, the Vincentian Center, and the construction of the St. Thomas More Church.