April 3, 2006
Springfield, Mass. -- Dave Gavitt - former BIG EAST Conference Commissioner and one of the founding fathers of the league - and University of Connecticut head women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma were introduced today as members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2006. The announcement was made in Indianapolis, Ind., site of the 2006 NCAA Men's Final Four.
Former NBA stars Charles Barkley, Joe Dumars and Dominique Wilkins and Italian National Team Coach Sandro Gamba were also introduced as members of the Class of 2006. To be enshrined, a finalist must garner a minimum of 18 votes from the 24-member Honors Committee.
Gavitt, Auriemma and Barkley were elected to the Hall of Fame in their first year of consideration. Wilkins, Dumars and Gamba have been Finalists previously.
Enshrinement ceremonies for the Class of 2006 are set for Sept. 7-9 in Springfield, Mass.
Gavitt was the catalyst behind the formation of the BIG EAST Conference, founded in 1979 by a group of administrators intent upon improving the fortunes of Eastern college sports, men's basketball in particular. He served as commissioner of the league from 1979 until 1990, during which time he helped fuel the Conference's explosive rise to prominence.
As head coach of the Providence College men's basketball program from 1969-79, Gavitt led the Friars to the school's first Final Four berth in 1973, in addition to eight 20-win seasons, five NCAA Tournaments, three NIT tournaments and five New England Coach of the Year Awards. He registered a record of 227-117 during his 10 seasons on the bench. His success as coach at Providence led to his selection as head coach of the 1980 United States Olympic Team which was unable to compete in Moscow due to the U.S. boycott.
Gavitt has countless other achievements and contributions to the sport of basketball. He was a member of the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee, including its Chair from 1982-84. During his tenure as Chair, he oversaw the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams, the use of domed stadiums for the Final Four, and the expansion of the CBS television coverage with the first contract. Gavitt also served on the Olympic governing body (now USA Basketball), a stint that included its presidency from 1988-92. In 1992, USA Basketball - under the direction of Gavitt - sent its first Dream Team comprised of NBA standouts including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. In addition, Gavitt was the CEO of the Boston Celtics from 1990-94, President of the NCAA Foundation from 1995-97 and Chairman of the Board of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame until 2003.
Auriemma has led the UConn women's basketball program to remarkable heights since being named coach prior to the 1985-86 season. He currently sports a 21-year collegiate head coaching record of 589-116 (.835), which ranks second in winning percentage among active coaches in the NCAA annals.
Since winning the first of five NCAA national championships in 1994-95 with a perfect 35-0 record, Auriemma and the Connecticut women's program have compiled an overall record of 397-35 during the past 12 seasons. Four of UConn's five national championships have been won during the past six years (2000, `02, `03, and `04).
Auriemma, a five-time National Coach of the Year, is a perfect 5-0 in NCAA National Championship games. His overall record in NCAA tournament competition is 58-13 and he has coached Connecticut to 30 or more victories in 11 different seasons. In addition to the Huskies' five national championships, he has also led the Connecticut program to eight Final Fours, 18 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, 14 BIG EAST regular season championships and 13 BIG EAST Championship titles.
Auriemma will be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., on April 29.