June 26, 2012
CLEVELAND - Dave Gavitt, founder and first commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference and former director of athletics at Providence College, was selected as the recipient of the 2012 Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association (DI-AAA ADA), today.
The award will be presented during the Division I-AAA ADA Meeting at the NACDA Convention in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday, June 26. It is the highest award presented by the association.
"My father would have been humbled and deeply honored to receive this award from his former I-AAA AD colleagues," said Dan Gavitt, associate commissioner at the BIG EAST Conference. "Providence College was a big part of his life, and he collaborated with so many other I-AAA ADs during his career. He would be pleased to be in the honored company of friends like Gary Cunningham and past and future award recipients. On behalf of the Gavitt family, thanks to the Division I-AAA ADA for this wonderful recognition of his valued lifetime achievements."
A member of the NACDA Hall of Fame, Gavitt enjoyed a celebrated career in athletics. Long associated with the sport of basketball in many capacities, he began his career as an athlete, earning five letters in basketball and baseball for Dartmouth. His love of the game led to a successful coaching career at Dartmouth and Providence, guiding the Friars to eight consecutive 20-win seasons and five NCAA tournaments -- including the NCAA Final Four in 1973.
Gavitt served as director of athletics at Providence for 10 years, where he built the Friar program from seven to 24 sports and had the vision to spearhead the construction of both an on campus ice hockey arena and recreation center. While at Providence, he was also the primary founder of the prestigious BIG EAST Conference in 1979 -- and served as its Commissioner until 1990. The BIG EAST quickly established itself as one of the nation's premier conferences offering championships in 19 sports.
Gavitt resigned from the BIG EAST Conference in 1990 to become Chief Executive Officer of the Boston Celtics, a post he held until 1994 when he became Vice Chairman of the Board of the publicly-held franchise.
From 1995 through 1997, he served as President of the NCAA Foundation, in which the Foundation almost doubled its funds under his management, increasing the number of schools in its Life Skills program from 44 to over 200 and founded along with Disney Sports a National Student-Athlete Leadership Conference.
Gavitt passed away in September 2011. Last January, the City of Providence renamed a street in his honor. Dave Gavitt Way now runs alongside Interstate 95 in downtown Providence, close to the home of the Providence College Friars.
Members of the Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award Committee include Division I-AAA athletics directors: Ken Kavanagh, committee chair; Ken Bothof, Wisconsin Green Bay; Peg Bradley-Doppes, Denver; Bob Driscoll, Providence; Tom Hickman, Winthrop; Rick Mazzuto, Cal State Northridge; Ed McLaughlin, Niagara; Lynn Robinson, Mount St. Mary's; Mike Roth, Gonzaga; and Eric Sexton, Wichita State.
About Division I-AAA ADA: Now in its 11th year, the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association's mission is to enhance initiatives common to its Division I-AAA membership (the 99 Division I institutions that do not sponsor football), in particular, aspects related to their flagship basketball programs. For more information on the Division I-AAA ADA, please visit www.div1aaa-ada.com. The Division I-AAA ADA is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 47th year. For more information on NACDA and the 12 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.more information on NACDA and the 11 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.