SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -
Donald E. (Dee) Rowe, former head men’s basketball coach at the University of Connecticut, distinguished administrator on the UConn athletics staff for the past 48 years and a lifelong ambassador of the game of basketball, has been listed as a nominee in the Contributor category for consideration as a inductee to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Basketball Hall of Fame, based in Springfield, Mass., on Wednesday announced nominee lists in six separate categories for evaluation by specific sub-committees that will determine honorees to be included in the Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Class of 2017.
Rowe’s nomination as a contributor was filed with the Basketball Hall of Fame by the UConn Division of Athletics under the signature of Director of Athletics David Benedict.
“Coach Dee Rowe’s entire life has been tied to the game of basketball. As a highly successful scholastic and collegiate teacher and coach, as an athletic administrator for more than 60 years, as a highly respected clinician and banquet speaker, and as a gifted mentor and counsel of hundreds of players and coaches, Dee Rowe is known throughout this country and beyond as one of America’s greatest advocates for the game of basketball,” said Benedict.
Rowe is one of 29 nominees listed in the Contributor category. A person is eligible for consideration for enshrinement as a Contributor for significant contributions to the game basketball.
Joining Rowe on the 2017 Hall of Fame nomination list is former UConn women’s basketball National Player of the Year Rebecca Lobo, nominated as a player in the Women’s Committee category. Lobo is in her third year on the women’s nomination list. Lobo, currently a television broadcaster with ESPN, led UConn to a perfect 35-0 record in helping guide the Huskies to their first NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship in 1994-95.
In addition to earning National Player of the Year honors, Lobo was a member of the 1996 USA Women’s Basketball Gold Medal winning Olympic team and was the No. 1 pick of the New York Liberty in the WNBA draft. A two-time All-American at UConn, Lobo averaged a double-double in her four collegiate seasons, scoring at a 16.9/game clip and adding 10.1 rebounds per game.
An outstanding scholar-athlete at UConn, in 2008 Lobo was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors Academic All-American Hall of Fame.
A native of Worcester, Mass., Rowe, 87, says he “fell in love” with the game of basketball in the third grade. He played scholastically at Worcester Academy and during his collegiate days at Middlebury College (A.B. 1952). He also earned a M.Ed. at Boston University in 1953.
For 13 years from 1955-69, Rowe was Director of Athletics and head coach of men’s basketball and baseball at Worcester Academy, building the school’s basketball program into a perennial power in New England prep school ranks. His teams won nine New England Prep School Championships and he compiled a 180-44 overall record.
In March of 1969, Rowe was named head coach of men’s basketball at the University of Connecticut and directed the UConn program for the next eight years, winning 120 games. He was named New England Coach of the Year twice (1970, 1976), led UConn to a pair of NIT berths (1974, 1975) and guided the 1975-76 UConn team to the ECAC New England Championship, a berth in the NCAA Tournament and UConn advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Rowe’s 21-year head coaching record at Worcester Academy and UConn was 300-132 (69.4%).
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rowe was part of numerous coaching and clinician activities including: in 1973 representing the U.S. State Department Partners of Americas Basketball Exchange Program throughout Brazil, serving as an assistant coach at the 1975 U.S. National Team Inter-Continental Cup Games, coach at the 1976 U.S. Olympic Basketball Trials and assistant coach for the 1980 Big East Conference All-Star tour of Yugoslavia.
In 1980, Rowe experienced what he calls “the greatest thrill of my personal basketball life” when he represented his country as assistant coach of the United States Men’s Basketball Olympic Team, joining head coach Dave Gavitt and fellow assistant coach Larry Brown.
Rowe’s close personal friendship with Gavitt began in 1960 when Rowe hired Gavitt as his assistant coach at Worcester Academy in 1960.
In 1979, Rowe played a pivotal behind the scenes role for UConn when Big East Conference founder and Commissioner Gavitt invited the Huskies to leave their New England athletic roots and become one of the seven charter members of the newly-formed Big East.
During the next 34 years as a member of the Big East, UConn men’s and women’s basketball would become the most successful programs in the history of the league. Under the Big East banner from 1979-2013, UConn won 11 NCAA Championships (8 women, 3 men) and a combined total of 55 Big East Conference regular season and tournament titles.
Dee Rowe was a key member of two UConn search committees in the mid-1980s that brought Geno Auriemma (1985) and Jim Calhoun (1986) to the University of Connecticut.
Auriemma, now in his 32nd year in charge of the UConn women’s basketball program, has won an all-time college record 11 NCAA Championships, and was enshrined as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2006.
Calhoun, who retired as UConn men’s basketball head coach in 2012, coached the Huskies for 26 years, winning three NCAA Championships (1999, 2004, 2011) and being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.
In 1978, after stepping down as head coach, Rowe launched the fund-raising arm for UConn Athletics and for the next 13 years became a national leader in collegiate athletic fund-raising, generating millions of dollars to support the mission of UConn Athletics.
Rowe personally directed the effort to raise more than $7 million in private donations to support the building (1987-90) of the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion/Sports Center Complex on UConn’s Storrs campus.
For the past 25 years, since his official UConn retirement at the end of calendar year 1991, Rowe has remained actively involved at the school in his emeritus role as Special Adviser for Athletics.
Rowe has been the recipient of numerous honors during his long and distinguished professional career.
In February of 2007, Dee Rowe was one of the members of the inaugural class of inductees to the UConn Basketball Huskies of Honor. Also in 2007, the University of Connecticut awarded Dee Rowe with the University Medal, one of the school’s most prestigious honors established by the Board of Trustees to recognize individuals who have had a significant influence on the University.
Rowe received the Gold Key from the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance, was a member of the inaugural class of honorees in the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and was honored by the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015, the ECAC honored Coach Rowe with its highest honor, naming Dee Rowe to the ECAC Hall of Fame.
The Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2017 will be formally announced on Monday, April 3, during the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona. Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement festivities for the Class of 2017 will take place in Springfield, Mass., September 7-9, 2017.