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New video scoreboard array coming to Montagne Center thanks to major gift

In Fall 2016 Lamar University Cardinal Basketball fans will find the game-day experience even more exciting thanks to a major gift from Susan Conn McCurry. At Saturday’s Tip-Off Breakfast, head basketball coach Tic Price announced the gift that will finance a new state-of-the-art video scoreboard system in the Montagne Center.

“We are so grateful to Susan Conn McCurry for this gift,” said Director of Athletics Jason Henderson. “Our student athletes deliver outstanding competitive play. Thanks to Susan’s generosity, excitement for Cardinal fans will be even greater as we will be able to present highlights and instant replays of all the action.”

The gift from McCurry, daughter of C.W. Conn Jr. and Dorothy Anne Conn, allows LU to purchase the state-of-the-art video scoreboard system and to update all of its timekeeping and scoring throughout the arena. The new video array will be branded with the Cardinals’ logos and will be in memory of C.W. and Dorothy Anne Conn.

“Lamar is my alma mater and is where my love for basketball began,” McCurry said. “Norman Bellard was on the team at that time and began working for Conn’s in 1981. We have been friends since then.” Bellard played for the Cards from 1975 to 1979 under the late Jack Martin and Billy Tubbs.

“When Norman approached me with the idea of the scoreboard, I was excited and felt blessed to be able to do this in honor and memory of my parents C.W. and Dorothy Anne Conn, who were great supporters of Lamar in many ways,” McCurry said.

McCurry graduated from Lamar University with a degree in elementary education in 1982. While a student at LU, she was “a super Cardinal Fan,” said Bellard, assistant to the president for community relations and athletics program liaison. “Her love of basketball extends to the Houston Rockets.” She and her husband, Roger, own Terra Bella Stables near Beaumont where they raise Gypsy Vanner and Friesian horses.

The Conn family has supported LU from 1983 to the present, including the Conn Chair in Gifted Education, C.W. Conn Sr. Memorial Scholarship in Business, the Conn’s Video Room in the Dauphin Athletic Complex, as well as contributions to the President’s Auxiliary Fund, the Karen Powell Memorial Scholarship, Athletic corporate sponsorships, the Dishman Art Museum, Cardinal Athletics, the Friends of the Arts, and more. C.W. Conn Jr., who earned an MBA from Lamar University in 1969, is a member of the College of Business Hall of Fame.

LU’s current scoreboard was unveiled when the Montagne Center opened on November 24, 1984. The 10,080-seat multipurpose arena was designed especially for Lamar University’s basketball program, but is also the site of LU commencement exercises, convocations and many other events for the university and community. 

After more than three decades of service “it is time to upgrade to something state-of-the-art,” Bellard said.

The new scoreboard will hang in place of the former, high above the recently resurfaced and updated Billy and Pat Tubbs Court, named for longtime head coach and athletics director Billy Tubbs and his wife, Pat. Tubbs led the ’78-’79 Cardinal squad as the first to advance to the NCAA tournament. 

“This new scoreboard will be a big recruiting tool that will add yet another level of professionalism to the program,” Bellard said. “Today’s players like to see those fabulous plays they make, so it has not only the ability to keep up with the score and individual statistics, but also instant replays that make this such a great addition to the Montagne.”

As a part of the overall improvement to the arena, the university plans significant upgrades to the sound system.

“C.W. and Dorothy Anne were big supporters of the university for a long, long time,” Bellard said. “I think her dad would have been very proud of her for this decision to support Lamar University.”

ABOUT CONN’S

The history of Conn’s began in 1890 when Edward Eastham founded Eastham Plumbing & Heating Co. in Beaumont. In 1931, 1st National Bank of Beaumont took over the company and renamed it Plumbing & Heating, Inc. In 1933, Carroll Washington Conn, Sr. began working for the company, purchased it one year later, and changed the name to Conn Plumbing & Heating Co.

In 1937, Conn’s began selling refrigerators and soon added gas ranges. By 1940, Conn had purchased a store building at 268 Pearl Street. The second company store opened in 1959 on 11th street. C.W. Conn joined the company in 1953 after serving in the Korean War. Seeing that customers needed dependable, quality service, he founded Conn’s retail service and maintenance subsidiary company, Appliance Parts & Service, in 1962. Two years later, he cofounded Conn Cred Corp., a retail credit financing services company, to provide retail credit financing services to Conn’s customers.

C.W. Conn was named president and Chief Operating Officer in 1966. Ten years later, he was named chairman of the board. Conn’s opened its first Houston location in 1983. A decade later, the company celebrated its first year with $100 million sales volume.

Now headquartered in The Woodlands, Conn’s has stores in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Oklahoma. Within Texas, Conn’s has stores in Greater Houston, the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, Greater San Antonio, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Southeast Texas and South Texas.