David Gavitt was born in Westerly, Rhode Island on October 26, 1937. He attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he played on the varsity basketball team. After graduation from Dartmouth he coached two years as an assistant basketball coach at Worcester Academy before joining the coaching staff at Providence College under Joe Mullaney in 1962. He remained at Providence College (PC) until 1966 when he joined his alma mater’s coaching staff as assistant basketball coach in 1967; by the following year he had become Dartmouth’s head basketball coach. His time at Dartmouth was short- lived because he returned to Providence College in 1969. There he replaced Joe Mullaney as head coach after Mullaney had departed to become head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Gavitt would coach Providence College for the next ten years. During his tenure the Providence College Friars would advance to post-season play for eight consecutive years, the NCAA (1972, 1973, 1974, 1977 and 1978) and the NIT (1971, 1975 and 1976). In 1973 he led the Friars to the NCAA Final Four tournament. For a time Gavitt also served as PC’s athletic director.
In 1979 he, along with several other college athletic directors, formed the Big East Conference. He would serve as the Big East commissioner for the next eleven years during which it became the premier basketball conference in the country. The Dave Gavitt Trophy is named in his honor and was given to the winner of the Big East’s men’s tournament.
From 1988 to 1992, Gavitt served as president of the US Olympic basketball governing body; and, during this tenure, he developed the concept of a Dream Team for the Olympic basketball team that was composed of the best players in the NBA.
The first “Dream Team” won Olympic gold in 1992. During his long career, Gavitt held many positions of basketball responsibility including 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. He also received many recognitions including induction into the Providence College Athletic Hall of Fame (1984), the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame (2000) and the Basketball Hall of Fame (2006).
Dave Gavitt died on September 16, 2011.
Russell J. DeSimone