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UConn legend Dee Rowe dead at age 91

The university has lost one of its greatest ambassadors.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Former UConn men’s basketball head coach Dee Rowe passed away early Sunday morning at age 91, according to a release from UConn. He was still with the school serving as a Special Adviser for Athletics.

Rowe won 120 games as the coach of the Huskies from 1969-1977 and was a mainstay at men’s and women’s basketball games for decades after, wearing his signature tan sport coat. After his eight years as head coach, Rowe became a tremendous ambassador for the athletic department, with his guidance and presence felt on nearly every single major decision for UConn sports at the end of the 20th century.

In 1979, Rowe’s close relationship with Dan Gavitt, the founder of the Big East conference, played an instrumental role in the Huskies receiving an invite to join the conference as a charter member. Less than a decade later, Rowe was a key member of search committee teams that found and hired women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma in 1985 and men’s basketball head coach Jim Calhoun in 1986. Those coaches went on to win 14 national championships (and counting) and helped transform UConn from a regional school to a top public university and basketball powerhouse.

Toward the end of the 1980s, Rowe was crucial in securing the necessary donations to construct Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, leading the effort and raising over $7 million, allowing UConn to usher in their rise to basketball dominance with a brand new arena.

Rowe was inducted into the Huskies of Honor as part of the 2007 inaugural class for these achievements. In 2017, Rowe received the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award - the most prestigious honor bestowed by the Hall of Fame outside of enshrinement. Later that year, UConn announced that a statue of Rowe will be cast in bronze and displayed on campus.

Numerous current and former UConn coaches released statements on the news of Rowe’s passing as they remember a beloved member of the UConn and Storrs community.