In 1980 Dee Rowe, three years removed from retiring as head coach at Connecticut, was to attend the Moscow Olympics as an assistant on the US Men’s National Team coached by Dave Gavitt.
Gavitt, who was the head coach at Providence and also the creator of the Big East conference, became an assistant at Providence under Joe Mullaney thanks in part to a recommendation from his close friend Rowe.
But the two friends who met when Gavitt arrived as an 18-year old freshman would not get a chance to coach in those Olympics, as President Jimmy Carter made the decision that the United States would boycott the games.
Thanks to current US Women’s National Team and UConn women’s head coach Geno Auriemma, Rowe is making that trip thirty-two years later.
Two years ago, however, when Auriemma’s UConn team won the national championship, he asked Rowe to be his presenter as he accepted the Winged Foot Award from the New York Athletic Club.
In his acceptance speech, Auriemma, already named the women’s Olympic coach for 2012, related the story of the 1980 boycott and surprised Rowe by saying he would like to take Rowe to London.
“That was the first I’d heard of it,” Rowe said. “And I’ve never said a word about it to Geno since and he hasn’t said a word about it to me since.
“But one day, Warde asked me to come see him and said, ‘We’d like to invite you and your wife to go to London and be a representative for us.’ I was kind of overwhelmed.”
Rowe and his wife Ginny will leave for London on August 3 to represent UConn at the Olympic games, and he’ll be able to attend all of the games involving the Women’s National Team.
It may not be the same as getting to actually coach in the games for Rowe, but he’s thrilled to be attending nonetheless.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled or more appreciative for the opportunity to represent our school,” remarked Rowe to Phil Chardis, UConn’s assistant AD of athletic communications.
“I’m extremely grateful to President Herbst, to Warde, and of course, to Geno. It’s wonderful that they made this happen. Ginny and I are very, very excited.”
Photo credit: UConn Today