Peter Sauer, Ex-Hoops Star, BofA Executive, Dies at 35

Former Bank of America Equities Trader Peter Sauer
A file photo shows Peter Sauer of the Stanford Cardinal during a game against the UCLA Bruins in 1999. Photographer: Donald Miralle/Allsport via Getty Images

Peter Sauer, a former Bank of America Corp. executive who was captain of the Stanford University basketball team that reached the Final Four in 1998, died after collapsing during a recreational game. He was 35.

Sauer collapsed and struck his head on the court during his team’s July 8 game at Gardella Park in White Plains, New York, the Journal News newspaper reported. The city lists the adult basketball league as “NCAA-certified, competitive” with “top-notch players.” He died of an enlarged heart and suffered a skull fracture, the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s office said today in an e-mail following an autopsy.

After playing professionally in Europe, Sauer traded basketball for finance in 2001, when he joined Zurich-based Credit Suisse AG in New York, according to Steve Keller, who hired him and became a friend. Keller brought Sauer to Bank of America after moving there himself in 2006.

“He was truly one of a kind and universally adored,” Keller, now a managing director at UBS AG in New York, said in an e-mail. “I am personally devastated, as are a multitude of my colleagues at UBS and throughout the business.”

Keller, who was captain of Yale University’s 1990-1991 basketball team, added that Sauer was “a devoted husband and father who couldn’t stop talking about his three young daughters.”

New Venture

Sauer joined Bank of America in 2007 and was a director in equity research sales, said Jessica Oppenheim, a company spokeswoman in New York. She said he recently left the Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm to pursue new ventures. Keller said Sauer had planned to raise money for hedge funds through independent retail-brokerage groups, a venture that was just getting started.

“Peter was a terrific friend, competitor and colleague,” Bank of America Co-Chief Operating Officer Thomas K. Montag said in a statement.

In March, with Stanford’s team in town for the National Invitation Tournament, Sauer led players and coaches on a tour of Bank of America’s New York headquarters, according to a university news release.

Sauer and his Stanford class of 1999 teammates reached the NCAA tournament all four of their seasons and won the Pacific-10 title in 1999, a first for the university. A forward, he stood 6 feet, 7 inches tall, averaged 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds for his career, and was team captain his junior and senior years, according to university records.

Biggest Game

Stanford’s alumni magazine reported in 1998 that Sauer was a “business buff” who turned a hypothetical $100,000 “into millions” for an investment class.

In the 1998 NCAA tournament, Stanford defeated Rhode Island to represent the Midwest region in the Final Four. It lost by one point, 86-85, to Kentucky, which went on to win the championship. Sauer’s three-pointer with 9.2 seconds left were the final points of the game, according to a New York Times account.

When Sauer graduated with an economics degree, his 124 games played ranked fourth in school history, according to a Stanford website. His class of seniors on the team ranked second in both scoring and rebounding overall for the school.

ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale wrote yesterday on his Twitter feed: “Heartbreaking. A fantastic young guy gone too early.”

Pro Ball

Peter M. Sauer was born on Nov. 9, 1976, in St. Louis and grew up in Pittsburgh, where he was a star player at Shady Side Academy, graduating as the school’s career scoring leader, the Associated Press reported.

After Stanford, he signed with the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and was cut in the summer of 1999, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile in July 2000. He then moved to Greece to play for the B.C. Iraklis Thessaloniki professional team, shunning minor leagues in the U.S.

“Basketball will take me places and afford me experiences I might not have had,” Sauer told the Post-Gazette. “But it is not my life. I see myself playing maybe three to five more years and then going out and getting a real job and living a more normal existence.”

He played a season in Greece, then one in Italy. He married the former Amanda Swank in 2001, and they moved to New York City, according to the Post-Gazette.

Survivors include his wife and their daughters; a younger brother, Alex; and his parents, Georgia and Mark Sauer, the Post-Gazette said. His father is a former president of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team and St. Louis Blues National Hockey League club.

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