EAST PROVIDENCE - Dave Gavitt, the famed former basketball coach at Providence College, creator of the Big East Conference and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, died late Friday night after a long illness. He was 73 years old.
"My father passed away peacefully on Friday night surrounded by his family," said Dan Gavitt, one of Gavitt's two sons.
Funeral arrangements for Dave Gavitt are not complete.
"Dave Gavitt had a profound effect on the lives of so many people in the game," said Mike Tranghese, the man who succeeded Gavitt as the Big East commissioner. "Jim Boeheim, Jimmy Calhoun, Rick Pitino, Rick Barnes, Timmy Welsh, Mike Krzyzewski. They all reached out to Dave for his advice."
Boeheim, the long-time coach at Syracuse, said Gavitt was "the only one" who could've led the formation of the Big East back in 1979. He summed up Gavitt's impact on his Hall of Fame career. "He's responsible for everything that's happened to me and to all of us," he said, referring to Big East coaches. "There would be no (national) championship, no Hall of Fame, none of it."
Ernie DiGregorio, the All-American guard from North Providence who helped lead Gavitt's best Friar team to the Final Four in 1973, said he'll always remember his mentor as a coach first.
"No one should ever forget that he was brilliant as a coach," DiGregorio said. "He always told me he wanted to be known as a coach first. Whenever I saw him I always called him `Coach Gavitt.''
Here is Gavitt's basketball biography, courtesy of the Basketball Hall of Fame:
Dave Gavitt is one of the architects of the modern game of college basketball.
From coach of Providence College to founder of the Big East Conference to chairperson of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee to president of USA Basketball, Gavitt has left a formidable imprint on the game he loves.
As coach of the Friars from 1969 to 1979, Gavitt led Providence College to 209 wins, including eight consecutive 20-win seasons, five NCAA tournament appearances, the 1973 Final Four, and three NIT appearances. Gavitt galvanized efforts to create the Big East Conference in 1979 and served as the powerhouse conference's first commissioner until 1990. His work with the Division I Men's Basketball Committee resulted in the expansion of the NCAA tournament to 64 teams and the use of domed stadiums for the Final Four. His lengthy rÃ©sumÃ© and contributions to New England basketball includes serving as Senior Executive Vice-President of the Boston Celtics from 1990 to 1994 and Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame from 1995 to 2003.