But he was much more than that. And what he meant to PC and the whole of Little Rhody may soon become very obvious. Dave Gavitt created the powerful Big East sports conference in the early 1980s, and with business savvy beyond even his coaching talents soon had it on the national map due to its A-list lineup of schools.
Not only did he start the Big East, but he based it in Providence. He also helped build the Providence Civic Center, now known unaffectionately as the Dunk. As Gavitt became a power on the national collegiate basketball scene, he groomed a PC-bred Mike Tranghese as his successor. Tranghese then gave way in 2009 to John Marinatto, another PC-nurtured sports guy who lives and breathes Vo Dilun.
Marinatto just abruptly resigned, and if he wasn't pushed into the path of a bus, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston both died of natural causes.
The Big East has recently been pillaged, with traditional basketball powers like Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia bolting in search of more television revenue — replaced with real credible Big "East" schools like the University of South Florida and Marquette, from Milwaukee.
With Marinatto's departure, look for the Big East to move its headquarters out of Providence, since the conference won't have Gavitt to keep it here. That means a possible significant loss of revenue, especially at the Dunk, where college sports, like business at the State House, works on good ol' boy connections.
Case in point: it's no coincidence that Providence, home of the Big East, gets some regional NCAA tournament games that bring in tourists from all over the country to watch their teams play.
But we could lose more than a few high-profile basketball games if the Big East leaves town. Large organizations like the Big East, Hasbro, and CVS not only create jobs, they also give back to the community through investment in local projects and events. That's a benefit of immeasurable importance. Ask Atlanta how much it likes being home to Coca-Cola. Ask Rochester how it's working out for that ghost town now that Kodak went under.
At any rate, John Marinatto is a good guy, and while he may have lost a job, Our Little Towne may have lost much more.
TIME TO FULLY EVOLVE
Recently, Vice President Joe Biden said he wholeheartedly embraced the concept of same-sex marriage. A day later, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that he also supported same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, President Obama, the one voice that could push this thing over the goal line, remains ambiguous on the issue.
Obama has ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and has also weighed in against some states' proposed bans on same-sex marriage. But still, when asked point-blank about his position on same-sex marriage, the president says his personal views are "evolving."
Might there be a connection between the President's evolving views and what we like to call "political calculation?" If so, someone ought to hand him the recent Gallup poll showing that 50 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage. And someone ought to tell him that those who are unalterably opposed to same-sex marriage are none too likely to be voting for him in the first place.