William R. Connolly passed away in 1971 and the members of the Riverside Athletic Club were deeply affected by his loss. At the same time, Pat Sullivan, quarterback at Auburn University, was awarded the Heisman Trophy over Ed Marinaro of Cornell University. The club members, all avid football fans, were in complete disagreement with the selection and questioned how awards like the Heisman were determined.
They agreed that a poor selection process denied equality to all individuals who might be deserving. The death of Bill Connolly and the awarding of the Heisman led to the beginning of the CONNOLLY CUP.
The club members realized they could not affect an award with the status of the Heisman Trophy, but could do something on a local level. In their discussions, the word “outstanding” was mentioned time and again. It was only natural that the award be named in memory of their departed brother, William R. Connolly, as he was a person who’s every effort and accomplishment was “outstanding.”
Forty six years have passed since the inception of the program and the Connolly Cup is now considered the most prestigious award in all of Western New York sports.