Dave Gavitt

Dave Gavitt
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1937-10-26)October 26, 1937
Westerly, Rhode Island
Died September 16, 2011(2011-09-16) (aged 73)
near Rumford, Rhode Island
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Playing career
1959–1960 Dartmouth
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1967–1969 Dartmouth
1969–1979 Providence
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

David "Dave" Gavitt (October 26, 1937 September 16, 2011) was an American college basketball coach and athletic director at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. He was also well known as the first commissioner of the Big East Conference and as part of the committee which created the 1992 Olympic Basketball "Dream Team."

Coaching career

Born in Westerly, Rhode Island, Gavitt graduated from Dartmouth College in 1959, where he was a member of the 1959-1960 varsity basketball team, the last Dartmouth basketball team to win the Ivy League championship. He spent two years as an assistant basketball coach at Worcester Academy before becoming an assistant coach at Providence under the legendary Joe Mullaney in 1962. He left in 1966 to become assistant coach and then head coach at his alma mater before taking over for Mullaney at Providence in 1969.

Under his ten-year tenure, the Friars advanced to the postseason eight straight years (1971–78; five NCAA appearances, 1972-'74, '77-'78, and three NIT appearances, 1971, '75, 76). In 1973, Gavitt's team made it to the Final Four for the first time in school history. He also served as director of athletics at PC from 1971 to 1982, and was at that position when the school's women's athletics programs were started as a result of Title IX.

The Big East, USA Basketball and beyond

In 1979, Gavitt, along with several other college athletics administrators, helped to form the Big East Conference as a means to better compete with the major schools in the country. He became the conference's first commissioner, from 1979 to 1990.[1] Under his direction, the Big East steadily expanded and was an almost immediate success, as several schools became basketball powerhouses (culminating in the 1985 Final Four, in which three schools from the conference – Georgetown, Saint John's, and eventual champion Villanova – were present).

During his tenure, six of the conference's schools (Georgetown, Villanova, Saint John's, Providence, Seton Hall and Syracuse) participated in the Final Four, and all nine teams made it to the NCAA tournament at least once. His contributions are memorialized in the Dave Gavitt Trophy, given to the winner of the Big East's men's basketball tournament, which he was responsible for not only creating, but its annual use of Madison Square Garden. Also, from 1982 to 1984, he was chairman of the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee. It was under his guidance that the tournament expanded to sixty-four teams, in order to provide better opportunity for small conference teams to participate. He was also responsible for the playing of Final Four games in larger venues such as domed stadiums, and the first full contract with a television network to provide universal coverage of the tournament, further adding to the tournament's popularity and prestige.

Gavitt has also been involved in Olympic basketball. In 1980, he was selected as the head coach of the Olympic basketball team, only to lose out on the opportunity due to the boycott of the Moscow games by the United States. He would also go on to serve on the Olympic governing body, including a presidency from 1988 to 1992. It was during his tenure that he developed the concept of the "Dream Team," an Olympic basketball team composed of the NBA's best.

Besides these responsibilities, Gavitt was CEO of the Boston Celtics from 1990 to 1994, President of the NCAA Foundation from 1995 to 1997, and Chairman of the Board of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame until 2003. He is a member of the Providence College Athletic Hall of Fame (1984), National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame (2000), and the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame (2000). Gavitt was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8, 2006. He became the third former member of the Friar athletic program (after John Thompson and Lenny Wilkens), and the first native of Rhode Island to be enshrined. The court at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, Friar's home court, in Providence, Rhode Island is named after him.

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Dartmouth Big Green (Ivy League) (1967–1969)
1967–68 Dartmouth 8–18 6–8 T–4th
1968–69 Dartmouth 10–15 4–10 6th
Dartmouth: 18–33 10–18
Providence Friars (Independent) (1969–1979)
1969–70 Providence 14–11
1970–71 Providence 20–8 NIT Quarterfinal
1971–72 Providence 21–6 NCAA 1st Round
1972–73 Providence 27–4 NCAA Final Four/NCAA National 3rd Place
1973–74 Providence 28–4 NCAA Sweet 16/NCAA East Regional 3rd Place
1974–75 Providence 20–11 NIT Runner-up
1975–76 Providence 21–11 NIT Semifinal/3rd Place
1976–77 Providence 24–5 NCAA 1st Round
1977–78 Providence 24–8 NCAA 1st Round
1978–79 Providence 10–16
Providence: 209–84
Total: 209–84

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


Gavitt died on September 16, 2011 from congestive heart failure[1] in a hospital near his hometown of Rumford, Rhode Island. He was 73.[2][3]


  1. 1 2 Richard Goldstein (September 17, 2011). "Dave Gavitt, Founding Force of the Big East Conference, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  2. O'Connell, Jim (September 17, 2011). "Hall of Famer Dave Gavitt Dies at 73". ABC News. Associated Press, ESPN. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  3. "Hall of Famer Dave Gavitt dies at 73". Sports Illustrated. si.com. Retrieved 19 September 2011.

External links

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