Wednesday, September 21, 2011

R.I.P. Dave Gavitt, 1937 -2011

Few people had as big an impact on modern college basketball as Dave Gavitt who died last Friday of congestive heart failure.  The former coach at Providence founded the Big East and ushered in the modern era of big money and television.

As a coach, Gavitt (Dartmouth ’59) took the Friars to the Final Four with a team led by Ernie DeGregorio and Marvin “The Eraser” Barnes.

In 1979, Gavitt gathered up a group of athletic directors to start the Big East -- a basketball conference focused on conference tournies, big arenas and a television deal with ESPN.

He served as Big East commissioner until 1990.

According to the New York Times, “Gavitt envisioned a time when major basketball colleges in the East would draw on big-city television and marketing opportunities to create a high-profile league, bringing enhanced revenue and the recruitment of star high school players.”

Gavitt also was selected as the 1980 U.S. Olympic basketball coach. He served as the President of USA Basketball, Executive Director of the NCAA Foundation, CEO of the Boston Celtics (1990-1994), Chairman of the Board of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and broadcast analyst for NCAA basketball games on both radio and television. 

In the 1992 Barcelona Games, Gavitt helped USA Olympic Dream Team win the gold medal. 

The rest, as they say, is history...

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