He played the game collegiately … officiated at the highest level … and became a conference supervisor of officials.
Dennis Hennigan has been involved with football for a half-century.
After graduating from CBA in 1971 where he played football for Hall of Famer Frank Cappelletti, he played defensive end for the University of Rochester where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1975. He earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 1976, and received his Juris Doctor from Case Western University Law School in 1980, and was admitted to the Ohio State Bar in 1980.
Since 1982, when he was admitted to the New York State Bar, he has resided here in Central New York.
The Camillus resident has practiced law in this community for more than 35 years. He was a partner at MacKenzie Hughes, specializing in commercial litigation, business law and employment law. Since 2004, he has been a partner at Costello, Cooney and Fearon. For fifteen years, he has received the highest possible peer review rating in legal ability and ethical standards.
Dennis began donning a striped shirt and blowing a whistle in 1976 with the Central New York High School Football Officials Association. He worked his way up, becoming a member of the Eastern Association of Intercollegiate Football Officials in 1982. He was a referee at the D-III level in the ECAC from 1982 to 1991, during which time he was the head referee for the annual Cortaca Jug game between Cortland and Ithaca. Dennis advanced to the DI-AA (FCS) level in 1992, and in 1996 was named the head referee for “The Game” between Harvard and Yale. In 1998 he became a member of the officiating staff of the Big East Conference, and he joined the Atlantic Coast Conference officiating staff in 2013.
Dennis was selected to be the head referee in fifteen bowl games, including three Rose Bowls and the 2004 National Championship Game at the Sugar Bowl. He has also been the head referee at the Fiesta, Capital One, Citrus, Liberty and Chick-fil-A bowls, among others. In 2013, he worked the final game coached by Texas’ Mack Brown at the Alamo Bowl. It is an honor to meet the captains at the 50-yard line of an Army-Navy game; Dennis had the distinction of being the head referee at the 2010 Army-Navy game.
In total, Dennis was the head referee in 370 college football games from 1983 through 2014, including, in addition to the bowl games, three Notre Dame at USC games and two Miami at Florida St. games, as well as games at such places as Oklahoma, Nebraska, Florida, Auburn and Notre Dame.
In 2015, he was named Coordinator of Football Officiating for the Atlantic Coast Conference, and he continues to hold that position.
Today he is named a member of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2017.