Concordia alumnus George Lengvari is a recipient of the inaugural Mitchell Family Alumni of the Year Awards, celebrating former Canadian university athletes who have become leaders in their communities and who have made significant contributions to their alma maters.
The announcement was made by U SPORTS, the national governing body of university sports, and by The Honourable Lois and Doug Mitchell, on Thursday afternoon during a virtual awards show. Nancy Knowlton, a graduate of Bishop’s University, was also recognized for her contributions to varsity athletics.
“I’m both honoured and humbled to have been chosen and want to thank the Mitchell family for establishing this award as I know it will be an inspiration for others in the future,” said Lengvari, the former Loyola College basketball star, in his acceptance speech.
Concordia and McGill universities co-nominated Lengvari for the prestigious award as he had a significant impact on both the Loyola and McGill University men’s basketball programs as a student-athlete and through his continued support in the years following his graduation.
A high-scoring forward, he powered the 1962-63 Loyola men’s basketball team to its first Ottawa-St. Lawrence Athletic Association (OSLAA) conference title and a berth at the inaugural Canadian Intercollegiate Athletics Union (now known as U SPORTS) championship. He was also captain of the Loyola varsity golf squad, leading the team to its best showing ever at the 1962 OSLAA tournament. He then continued his basketball career at McGill, serving as the team captain in 1964-65.
“I’m also grateful to both Concordia and McGill universities for their joint nomination and for believing in me as I believe in the young men and women we are helping together,” Lengvari added.
At Loyola, Lengvari completed a BA Economics in 1963 before moving across town to McGill to study law and graduating in 1966.
Lengvari practiced International Fiscal and Transactional Law in Montreal from 1968-94. He then became vice-chair of Weider Health and Fitness – a Los Angeles-based holding company with operations in publishing, vitamins and nutrition as well as fitness equipment – from 1994 to 2009. He also served as vice-chair of Schiff Nutrition International, a NYSE-listed company; chair of Lengvari Capital Limited, a private equity investment company and founded an international licensing group. At one point in his career, he also worked as a sports agent representing Montreal Canadiens icon Jean Béliveau and baseball great Gary Carter.
Today, Lengvari is passionate about giving back to both of his alma maters. In 2019, Concordia and McGill initiated an annual regular season rivalry challenge in the form of the George Lengvari Cup.
At Concordia, his contributions have included matching the basketball Stingers’ inaugural Giving Tuesday campaign in 2020, arranging for new equipment for the varsity weight room, launching the university’s alumni chapter in London, England and serving on the university’s board of governors from 1993-2000.
“I cannot say enough about George and what he means to our department and especially the men’s basketball team,” said D’Arcy Ryan, Concordia’s Director of Recreation and Athletics “His generosity has an immense impact on the program and the type of experience we can offer our young athletes. But even more important is the buzz that is in the hallways and the gym when George comes to visit the team. It’s incredible to see how excited everyone is and how inspired they are. George has an incredible story and has enjoyed great success. I see how motivated our Stingers are by the wisdom he shares and the example he sets.”
At McGill, Lengvari has donated significantly and established three different annual Athletic Financial Awards. He also sits on the board of governors for the Martlet Foundation, which has promoted excellence in athletics and academics since 1954.
Lengvari has been recognized with several awards over the years including the Humberto Santos Alumni Award of Merit (2002) – the Concordia Alumni Association’s highest honour – as well induction into the Concordia Sports Hall of Fame (2011) and the McGill men’s basketball Wall of Honour (2013).
Lengvari and Knowlton will each receive a Jim Thompson Trophy, named for the former president of TSN who passed away in 2002. They will also have the opportunity to donate a leadership training session provided by Blueprint for a group of deserving students at the institution of their choice.