The Columns

Athletic Complex Named in Honor of Duchossois

— by on October 23rd, 2008

Washington and Lee University has named its outdoor athletic complex in honor of Richard L. Duchossois of the Class of 1944 in recognition of his support for the University.

Announcement of the naming was made Saturday during ceremonies for the rededication of Wilson Field, the University’s football, lacrosse and track facility that underwent a $15.5 million reconstruction and was opened this fall.

In addition to Wilson Field, the Duchossois Athletic Complex comprises the fields for soccer, field hockey, and baseball, the cross country course as well as the outdoor tennis courts and the indoor tennis center that bears Duchossois’ name.

W&L President Ken Ruscio, who made the announcement, said that Duchossois’ insistence in the late 1990s that the indoor tennis facility be done “the right way” has been the guiding principle behind the development of all of the recent upgraded or newly constructed athletic facilities.

“The Duchossois Tennis Center set the standard for the rest of our facilities,” Ruscio said during a brunch honoring more than 650 donors to the Wilson Field project. “Following that standard, we now have, with the rededication of Wilson Field, the finest outdoor athletic complex of any NCAA Division III institution in the country.”

Ruscio noted that Duchossois had provided $10 million in support to the various projects, including a $4 million leadership gift that led early funding for Wilson Field’s reconstruction and a $1.5 million challenge grant near the end of the Wilson Field campaign that enabled the University to complete the funding for the facility.

Duchossois, founder and chairman of Duchossois Industries, Inc., and chairman emeritus of Arlington Park Race Course, said that Washington and Lee provides the important link between academic excellence and the development of leadership qualities in its students and graduates.

“When you look at W&L, you get the finest academic education,” he said. “When you go west of the footbridge [to the outdoor athletic complex], you put that education into action by learning how to work with each other through teamwork. These two components — academic and the athletic — are tied together by the finest honor system in the world so that everything is done in an ethical way.”

A granite plaque identifying the Duchossois Athletic Complex was unveiled in the walkway on the west end of the footbridge.