Basketball Legend Dave Gavitt ’59 Died at 73

Basketball legend, Dave Gavitt ’59, died on Friday at the age of 73 at the Roger Williams Medical Center in Rhode Island. Dave Gavitt was born in Hartford, CT on October 26, 1937 and grew up in Westerly, RI and Peterborough, NH. He came to Dartmouth in the fall of 1955 to study history and play both baseball and basketball. He helped lead the Indians to their last two Ivy League basketball titles in 1958 and 1959.

After his career as a player, Dave Gavitt began coaching at Worcester Academy and also managed the Cape Cod Baseball League during the summer where he met Julie, his wife of 46 years. Gavitt then served as head men’s basketball coach for two seasons at Dartmouth College before returning to his roots in Rhode Island to coach the Providence College men’s basketball team. In the span 10 years, he coached the Friars to 209 wins and 84 losses. Gavitt led the Friars to the NCAA tournament five times, including an NCAA Championship Final Four appearance in 1973. 

As a result of his successful leadership at Providence, Dave was selected as the 1980 U.S. Olympic basketball coach. Dave founded the BIG EAST Conference in 1979 and became the first Commissioner until 1990. He has 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.

Dave Gavitt was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA in 2006. His contributions to the game of basketball have had a major impact on many lives. According to his loved ones, 

“Dave was an engaging and nurturing man who excelled as an educator, coach, mentor, leader, and visionary. His credo was faith, family and friends. He was a gifted storyteller with a wonderful sense of humor. He loved everyone he met along life’s journey and connected in a very deep and personal way with the people he touched.” 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held this upcoming Thursday, September 22, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence.

–David Rufful