NEW YORK – Thirty-five years ago, Dave Gavitt was the driving force behind an idea that would change college basketball forever.
On Monday, the Big East – the conference he led to such success in so short a period – and the Big Ten announced a series that they hope will get the season off to a big start while honoring Gavitt’s legacy.
“This all started with friendship and it ends with competition,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said at a news conference at Madison Square Garden. “This shows Dave’s spirit is with us today as much as when he was with us.”
The eight-game series between the leagues will begin with the 2015-16 season and will be known as the Gavitt Tipoff Games. The four-day event will be held the first week of the regular season and will be played at home sites, four from each conference. The original deal is for eight years.
The matchups for the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games will be announced after next season.
Gavitt, who died in 2011 at 73, coached Providence to the NCAA tournament five times, including the Final Four in 1973. He was the key player in the formation of the Big East and was its first commissioner. He was selected to coach the U.S. Olympic team in 1980, but the United States boycotted the Moscow Games. Gavitt was president of USA Basketball and oversaw the introduction of NBA players onto the U.S. Olympic roster, including the Dream Team at the 1992 Games.
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