Former UConn coach, icon Donald 'Dee' Rowe dies at 91

Ryan Young
·2 min read
Former University of Connecticut head men's basketball coach Dee Rowe
Donald "Dee" Rowe coached at UConn in the 1970s and served decades as an ambassador to the university. He was 91. (AP/Bob Child)

Longtime UConn basketball coach and ambassador Donald “Dee” Rowe died at his Storrs, Connecticut, home on Sunday, the school announced.

He was 91.

Rowe was hired at UConn in 1969 and compiled a 120-88 record over eight seasons while leading the Huskies to the NCAA tournament’s Round of 16 twice. He was named the New England Coach of the Year in both 1970 and 1976.

Rowe retired in 1977, but stayed on at UConn as an ambassador to the athletic department. He is largely credited for raising money for Gampel Pavilion, the school’s on-campus arena, and for helping to hire both legendary coaches Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma.

“From that day in May of 1986 when Dee told me I needed to accept the challenge and take the UConn coaching job, he has always been in my corner rooting for me, my family, and my teams,” Calhoun said in a statement, via the Associated Press. “Dee Rowe is a once-in-a-lifetime mentor who had a relentless pursuit of helping people and doing good. He will not, and cannot, be duplicated or replaced.”

Rowe, who was hired as an assistant for Team USA for the 1980 Olympics, received the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.

“I learned from Dee just by watching, how he carried himself, just the way he was,” Auriemma said Sunday, via The Associated Press. “He carried himself around like an old move star from the ’30s and ’40s. I thought to myself, ‘Man, if I can coach long enough and grow up to be like him, I’ll be the happiest guy in the world.’”

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