Big East Conference Founder, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Gavitt Dies

Dave Gavitt, a member of basketball’s Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and the first commissioner of the Big East Conference, died Friday after battling a long illness. He was 73.

Gavitt was a driving force in college basketball the past three decades. He led Providence College to the semifinals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s championship tournament in 1973, was chairman of the NCAA’s Division I men’s basketball committee from 1982 through 1984 when the tournament expanded to 64 teams, and was the Big East Conference commissioner from its founding in 1979 until 1990.

Picked to coach the U.S. Olympic team in 1980, Gavitt lost the opportunity when the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games. He still had an impact on the Olympic team when he served as president of USA Basketball and helped to bring National Basketball Association players into the Olympics, including the so-called Dream Team U.S. roster for the 1992 Olympics.

Big East spokesman John Paquette confirmed Gavitt’s death, without providing details. The Providence Journal reported that Gavitt, who had a 209-84 record over 10 coaching seasons and led Providence to the NCAA tournament five times, died in a hospital surrounded by his family.

To contact the reporter on this story: Curtis Eichelberger in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at

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