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William J. Flynn papers

Collection BC-1997-077: William J. Flynn papers


  • Creation: 1933 - 1997

Scope and Contents

The William J. Flynn papers contain correspondence; manuscript materials; clippings, periodicals and press releases; brochures; certificates; photographs and original artwork documenting the life and career of William J. Flynn. Notable items include awards and honors received by Flynn; correspondence documenting the construction and dedication of the Flynn Student Recreation Complex; and extensive published and visual materials depicting Flynn’s career as a student athlete and athletic director. Within the visual materials, Flynn is pictured with many prominent individuals, including: Ronald Reagan, Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Rev. J. Donald Monan, SJ, Ed Chlebek, and Jack Bicknell.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

William J. Flynn was born on July 13, 1915. He attended Lawrence Academy and Boston English High School, where he was captain of the 1933 football team. Flynn enrolled in Boston College in 1935. While at Boston College, he earned nine varsity letters in football, baseball, and hockey, and was named captain of the football team in 1938.

Flynn graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Boston College in 1939 and a Master of Education in 1940. From 1940 to 1942, Flynn taught History and Mathematics, and continued his involvement with student athletics as a coach, at Cranwell Preparatory School in Lenox, Massachusetts. In 1942, Flynn married Marie Donovan.

From 1942 to 1945, Flynn served as a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Houston, Texas and Newark, New Jersey. Flynn then returned to coaching and teaching at Cranwell Preparatory School before becoming an instructor in Mathematics at Boston College in 1947.

From 1948-1951, Flynn was Boston College’s Assistant Football Coach. In 1952, he was appointed Director of the Boston College Alumni Association; a post he held for the next five years. In 1957, the same year that Alumni Stadium opened as the home of Boston College football, Flynn became the Director of Boston College’s Athletic Association. He served as Athletic Director until his retirement in 1991.

During Flynn’s 34 tenure, he received many appointments and honors. Flynn was elected Secretary-Treasurer (1969-1970) and President (1979-1980) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He also served on various governance committees of the NCAA, National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), and other organizations. He was the recipient of the James J. Corbett Award for excellence in collegiate athletic administration (1981) and the Distinguished American Award presented by the National Football Foundation (1985). The latter earned Flynn a permanent place in the College Football Hall of Fame. In recognition of his service to collegiate athletics and to the Boston College Community, the William J. Flynn Student Recreation Complex at Boston College was named in his honor on October 14, 1979.

William J. Flynn died on June 27, 1997 in Brighton, Massachusetts. The following year, Boston College honored his memory through the establishment of the William J. Flynn Fund.


"William Flynn, Athletic Director, 82," obituaries, New York Times, June 29, 1997, Section 1, Page 29.

"William J. Flynn, athletic director at Boston College for 35 years, at 81", obituaries, Boston Globe, June 28, 1997.

"William J. Flynn dies: long-time athletic director remembered." Boston College Chronicle Volume 5, Number 19, 17 July 1997.


7 Linear Feet (8 containers)

Language of Materials



The papers document Boston College Athletic Association Director William J. Flynn as a student athlete and in his role as director. Materials include correspondence, printed materials, manuscripts, photographs, and artwork. Of note are correspondence with the Daniel F. Tully Associates, designers of the Flynn Student Recreational Complex at Boston College, and photographs of Flynn with prominent individuals, including Jack Bicknell, Ed Chlebek, J. Donald Monan, SJ, Tip O'Neill, and Ronald Reagan.


Arranged in four series: I. Correspondence; II. Manuscripts; III. Printed materials; and IV. Visual materials.

Series I. Correspondence is further divided into two subseries: A. General, and B. Daniel F. Tully Associates, Inc.

Series III. Printed materials is further divided into three subseries: A. Press; B. Awards and honors; and C. Ephemera.

Series IV. Visual materials is further divided into two subseries: A. Photographs, and B. Portraits.


Gift of Marie Flynn (1997).

William J. Flynn Papers
Edward B. Copenhagen, 2002; updated by AnneMarie Anderson, 2010; and Rachael Young.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States