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.
Dee Rowe, UConn's iconic Athletics and Institutional Ambassador for the past 53 years and former men's basketball coach, passed away early Sunday in Storrs at the age of 91. Rest In Peace, Coach Rowe. pic.twitter.com/dK2wJPtTJg— UConn Huskies (@UConnHuskies) January 10, 2021
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.
Geno on Dee Rowe: "People use this term a lot, but he's been a father to me."— David Borges (@DaveBorges) January 10, 2021
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.
Rest easy Coach Rowe. Thanks for your friendship, guidance, and being a daily example of the highest level of class and dignity. A huge loss for UConn and the basketball coaching fraternity. Love you Coach.— Tom Moore (@CoachTomMoore) January 10, 2021
Statement from Coach Penders on his friend and mentor Dee Rowe. pic.twitter.com/1ECMN3suLR— UConn Baseball (@UConnBSB) January 10, 2021
Jim Calhoun on Dee Rowe: "As good a coach as he was, no one could surpass him as a person. He was special."— David Borges (@DaveBorges) January 10, 2021