Dee Rowe

American basketball coach (1929-2021)

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Dee Rowe
Dee Rowe.jpg
Biographical details
Born(1929-12-22)December 22, 1929
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedJanuary 10, 2021(2021-01-10) (aged 91)
Storrs, Connecticut, U.S.
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1955–1969Worcester Academy
Head coaching record
Overall120–88 (.577)

Donald Rowe (December 22, 1929 – January 10, 2021) was an American college basketball coach. He coached for the UConn Huskies men's team[1] and was a university Athletics Ambassador, fundraising for college athletic programs.[2]

Early life

Rowe was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and graduated from Worcester Academy in 1947.


After graduating from Middlebury College, where he played on the men's basketball team, and serving in the U. S. Army, Rowe returned to Worcester Academy the fall of 1955 as the Athletic Director and head basketball coach.[3] He quickly built the athletic program into a power in the New England prep school interscholastic athletics and, in addition, his basketball teams won the New England Prep School Championship nine times. He served as the director of athletics and the head coach of both the men's basketball and baseball teams for 13 years, from 1955 to 1969.[4]

In the spring of 1969, Rowe was hired as the men's head coach at the University of Connecticut, and he headed the Huskies program from 1969 until 1977. From 1972 to 1977, UConn had winning seasons with one NCAA appearance reaching the final 16, two NIT appearances, and three ECAC tournament appearances with one championship. He was named the New England coach of the year in both 1970 and 1976.[4]

Rowe participated in the search committees which brought Hall of Fame coaches Jim Calhoun (men's basketball) and Geno Auriemma (women's basketball) to Connecticut. He also played an instrumental role in the foundation of the Big East conference.[4] Rowe was the architect of the fundraising arm for UConn athletics, which over the course of 13 years raised millions of dollars for a variety of projects including the building of the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.[4]

In December 2016, the Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Dee Rowe was a nominee for consideration as a member of Hall of Fame in the contributor category.[4] In 2017, Rowe was awarded the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.[5]


In 1980, Dave Gavitt appointed Rowe to be an assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team. Rowe continued his involvement with both the Worcester Academy and the University of Connecticut.[6]

He was unable to participate as assistant coach due to the US boycott of the 1980 Olympics. Rowe had a framed picture of the 1980 United States Olympic men's basketball team hanging on his office wall. Although he publicly expressed concern for other athletes, such as soccer players and track athletes who were unlikely to have sports careers after the Olympics, others knew the cancellation of the trip was important to him. Geno Auriemma, the Connecticut women's basketball coach, often visited Rowe in his office and saw the picture every time. In 2010, Auriemma was named the head coach of the USA women's basketball team, scheduled to compete in several events, including the 2012 Olympics. In 2010, Auriemma was honored at the Winged Foot Club in New York City to receive an award. Rowe was the individual who "presented" Auriemma. As part of Auriemma's acceptance speech, Geno talked about Rowe's disappointment, and said he hoped to take Rowe with him. Rowe remembered hearing it at the time, but the discussion didn't come up again until 2012. As they were making preparations for the Olympics, Auriemma was trying to find a way to bring Rowe along. Auriemma could bring his team and staff members, but Rowe was not part of the USA Basketball staff. He spoke to Warde Manuel, the Connecticut athletic director, and proposed that Rowe be named a university ambassador. There were approximately 250 UConn alumni planning to make the trip, so Rowe could serve as the person to represent the school. The athletic director and Susan Herbst, the school president, supported the idea, so Dee Rowe was able to attend the Olympics in an official capacity.[7][8]

Personal life and death

He married his college girlfriend, Virginia (Ginny) Bradford Reynolds in 1954. They had seven children.[9]

Rowe had dementia and died from COVID-19 and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia at his home in Storrs, Connecticut, on January 10, 2021. He was 91.[10][11]

Head coaching record

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Connecticut Huskies (Yankee Conference) (1969–1976)
1969–70 Connecticut 14–9 8–2 T–1st
1970–71 Connecticut 10–14 5–5 3rd
1971–72 Connecticut 8–17 5–5 T–4th
1972–73 Connecticut 15–10 9–3 2nd
1973–74 Connecticut 19–8 9–3 2nd NIT Quarterfinals
1974–75 Connecticut 18–10 9–3 2nd NIT First Round
1975–76 Connecticut 19–10 7–5 T–2nd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Connecticut: 103–78 (.569) 52–26 (.667)
Connecticut Huskies (Independent) (1976–1977)
1976–77 Connecticut 17–10
Connecticut: 17–10 (.630)
Total: 120–88 (.577)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ "UCONN Hoop Legends: DONALD "DEE" ROWE".
  2. ^ "Dee Rowe Lived Life With Passion and Purpose". University of Connecticut Athletics. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  3. ^ "Dee Rowe, Rebecca Lobo Listed As Basketball Hall Of Fame Candidates". 2016-12-21. Archived from the original on 2018-03-24. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  4. ^ a b c d e "The New Haven Register Blogs: Elm City to Eagleville: UConn legends Lobo, Rowe on Hall of Fame ballot". Retrieved 2016-12-22.
  5. ^ "Former UConn coach, ambassador Rowe dies". 2021-01-10. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  6. ^ "UConn's Rowe to receive Bates honor | News | Bates College". 2005-05-27.
  7. ^ Elsberry, Chris (December 26, 2012). "Chris Elsberry: Rowe makes Olympic trip after all". CT Post. Retrieved 26 Dec 2012.
  8. ^ Chardis, Phil. "An Olympic Debt Repaid: Dee Rowe". UConn. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  9. ^ Sandomir, Richard (2021-01-12). "Dee Rowe, UConn Basketball Coach and Fund-Raiser, Dies at 91". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  10. ^ "Former UConn men's basketball coach Dee Rowe dies at 91". January 10, 2021. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  11. ^ "Mike Anthony: A beloved coach, mentor and ambassador, Dee Rowe was UConn's guiding light". Hartford Courant. January 11, 2021. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
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