inducted February 18, 2006
In Columbia Athletics, "MVP" doesn’t stand for Most Valuable Player or Most Valuable Pitcher. For the past 35 years, it should have stood for Most Valuable Person, or maybe "MVF" for Most Valuable Friend.
That truly is what Connie S. Maniatty has been to Columbia Athletics since the late 1960’s.
Connie S. Maniatty first became involved in Columbia football in the sixties, at the behest of his college classmate and teammate, Ken Germann ‘ 43CC. Germann had become Columbia’s athletic director, and he looked to Maniatty, president of the Class of 1943 since graduation, and a major executive of Salomon Brothers, for support.
"Ken asked for help with the recruiting budget," Connie recalled recently. "I asked him how much he needed and he told me $500. So I wrote him a check for $1000 and informed him that I always had money for recruiting in all sports."
Germann received a check for $1000. What Columbia got was more than he could ever have imagined.
"I don’t think Columbia would have football today," said Bill Campbell '62CC, "if Connie had not become involved. Concern about the sport had become so great that if Connie had not been such a strong advocate, football might not have continued."
Campbell was one of Columbia’s most inspirational players, and its head football coach from 1974 to 1979. He now is the Chair of the Columbia Board of Trustees.
"Nobody in my time at Columbia meant as much to me, or to my staff and players, as Connie Maniatty. I’ll never forget him, either as a strong advocate or as a close friend."
Al Paul, Columbia's director of athletics from 1974 to 1991, felt much the same way.
"Without a doubt, there is no one I’ve ever known who gave more of himself to Columbia and Columbia football. Moral, financial, any support — he was always there."
Few people have devoted as much time to Columbia. Heavily involved with athletics until recently as the chair of both the Football Alumni Advisory Committee (for 35 years!) and the President's Advisory Committee on Athletics, he also served as a trustee of the University, and as a member of several University committees.
Besides moral support, he lent financial support to many athletic programs, not just football. In fact, Maniatty has provided financial support to every female and male team at Columbia and Barnard for the past 40 years.
"Connie enabled us to do things that we could not have accomplished without his support," Paul said. "He believed strongly in women’s athletics, and when we began them in the early 1980’s, he contributed to them. The NCAA limits recruiting budgets to funds contributed by alumni, and we would never have been able to recruit for women’s teams, which of course had no alumnae, if he hadn’t been supportive.
"He also gave strong support to the building of Wien Stadium. I don’t think we could ever have gotten off as quickly as we did, if it hadn’t been for Connie."
"While I was a trustee," Maniatty recalled, "I was sort of regarded as the sports guru … Even way back then we were trying to find funds for a desperately needed stadium. Our group, led by me, went through three [Columbia] presidents who stated absolutely 'No!'. Then Michael Sovern became president (in 1980).
"I went into his office and before I could say a word, he told me that he knew why I was there. He said 'OK, let's go, but we are not spending a penny [for a new stadium] until we have the money in the bank. He stated he would help."
Sovern was true to his word. One day he called Maniatty and said he had a prospect named Larry Wien.
"We had lunch at my office," Maniatty said, "and Larry was not very enthusiastic about football ever since the thirties. I was crushed but Mike Sovern said not to despair.
"Lo and behold, he called me a few weeks later and said, 'Sit down, I have good news. Larry will give us three million dollars!' Thank God for Mike and Larry!"
"Gene Remmer and I made the first two large donations and the rest was good, hard work plus much more additional help from Larry. We, especially me, worked 17 years on the football stadium project. Every time I drive up the Henry Hudson Parkway, I look over and beam with pride."
Maniatty, a former Lion football player and three-year letterwinner in baseball, was honored in 1974 with the Varsity C Club Alumni Athletic Award. In 1994, the Connie S. Maniatty Award was established to recognize the leading male and female athletes among the senior student-athlete class. Presented at the Varsity C Dinner, it is among Columbia Athletics’ most prized awards. The University also has honored him with its Alumni Medal and John Jay Award. p>
Maniatty is the former honorary managing director, and partner, of Salomon Brothers, which he joined right after graduation when it was still known as The Discount House of Salomon Brothers & Hutzler. A Columbia trustee for 11 years, he and his wife, Betty, are still active in charitable causes near their Fairfield County (Conn.) home. Connie has been chairman of the board of the Norwalk Hospital Foundation for the past nine years, and a member of the board of trustees of the hospital itself. During his chairmanship, the Foundation has raised more than $55,000,000. He also is president of the Fairfield County Hunt Club, where he holds the club record with 14 tennis doubles championships.
He and Betty, whom he met when she was a registered nurse at St. Luke's Hospital, raised three children, Margaret, Anne and Philip, who have given their parents five grandchildren.