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Big East founder Dave Gavitt dies

Big East Conference founder Dave Gavitt has died. He was 73 years old.

Gavitt died Friday night, according to Providence College. Gavitt spent 10 years as men's head basketball coach for the Friars.

Gavitt was the driving force behind the Big East, which formed as a basketball league in 1979. He served as the Big East's first commissioner from its inception until 1990, and was also instrumental in expanding the NCAA men's tournament to 64 teams in 1985.

The Rhode Island native coached Providence from 1969-79, leading the Friars to the Final Four in 1973. He guided the school to 209 wins, including eight straight 20-win seasons, and five NCAA Tournament appearances.

Gavitt was named the head coach of the U.S. Olympic basketball team in 1980, but the squad never made it to the Moscow Games because of the U.S.-led boycott. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

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