David Roy Gavitt, 73, of Rumford, R.I. and Craigville, Mass., died peacefully surrounded by his loving family on September 16, 2011 at Roger Williams Medical Center.
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 was born in Hartford, Conn. on October 26, 1937, the son of the late Roy H. Gavitt and Audrey L. Gavitt. He was raised in Westerly, R.I. and Peterborough, N.H.
A 1959 graduate of Dartmouth College, Dave earned a degree in history while playing basketball and baseball. He began his basketball coaching career at Worcester Academy, and managed in the Cape Cod Baseball League during the summer. Cape Cod was where Dave met Julie, his wife of 46 years. They eventually had two sons.
Dave was head basketball coach at both Dartmouth College (1966-69) and Providence College (1969-1979), where he also served as director of athletics for 10 years. At Providence, he guided the Friars to eight consecutive 20-win seasons and five NCAA tournaments – including the 1973 Final Four. Dave’s coaching success led to his selection as the 1980 U.S. Olympic basketball coach.
In 1979, he founded the BIG EAST Conference and served as its first commissioner until 1990. His innovative conference creation revolutionized college basketball and benefitted countless coaches and student-athletes. He was also a member of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee and served as its chair from 1982 to 1984.
Dave left the BIG EAST Conference in 1990 to become CEO of the Boston Celtics through 1994. Prior to and during his tenure with the Celtics, from 1988-92, he served as the president of USA Basketball. Under his leadership, the Olympic Dream Team of 1992 captured a gold medal in the Barcelona Games. The USA Basketball experience capped a career-long involvement with international basketball as coach, clinician, and ambassador of the game.
He was executive director of the NCAA Foundation from 1996 to 1999. He enjoyed working as a broadcast analyst for NCAA basketball games on radio and television and co-founded the NCAA Selection Sunday radio show.
In 2006, Dave was honored for a lifetime of achievement and service to the game that he so loved with his enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
Dave was a long-time member of St. Margaret’s Church (RI) and Our Lady of Victory Church (MA). He was a member of the University Club, Hyannisport Club, and Craigville Beach Association. He was a past member of Agawam Hunt and Lemon Bay Golf Club. He was honored to be a member of the board of trustees at Bryant University, the President’s Council at Providence College, board of Rhode Island Convention Center Authority, chair of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board, and chair of the Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament.
With family and friends, Dave loved to share in scrabble, links golf, categories, charades, beach games, travel and photography.
He is survived by his wife, Julie Garraghan Gavitt; son, Corey (Alison) Gavitt of Wilson, Wyo.: son, Dan (Susan) Gavitt of Barrington, R.I.; brother Michael Gavitt of Hot Springs, S.D.; sister, Celina Gavitt of Dublin, N.H.; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Abel and Nancy Garraghan of Kingston, N.Y.; nephew, Patrick (Tanya) Garraghan of Hurley, N.Y.; niece, Kiley (Jim) Shea of Kingston, N.Y.; niece, Molly Garraghan of Avon, Colo.; nephew, Justin Gavitt Dube of Newport, Tenn; and his cherished grandchildren, Tille, Tisha, Andrew and Sean Gavitt.
Donations in Dave’s memory may be made to: Providence College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 1 Cunningham Square, Providence, R.I. 02918; Dartmouth College, 6066 Development Office, Hanover, N.H. 03755; or Roger Williams Medical Center, 825 Chalkstone Ave., Providence, R.I. 02908.
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