Strack, who ushered UA into Pac-10 and hired Snowden, dies at 90

2014-01-27T00:00:00Z Strack, who ushered UA into Pac-10 and hired Snowden, dies at 90Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 27, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Dave Strack, the UA athletic director who ushered Arizona into the Pac-10 Conference and hired the first black basketball coach at a major university, died Saturday. He was 90.

Strack’s passing was announced by the University of Michigan, where Strack played basketball and served as head coach before moving into administration.

UA athletic director Greg Byrne said Sunday he was “saddened to hear of Dave Strack’s passing.”

The UA acknowledged Strack on the video board during Sunday night’s win over Utah in McKale Center.

“He was a forward-thinking administrator, who did a lot for the University of Arizona and its athletics department,” Byrne said. “We send our condolences to Dave’s family and friends.”

As Arizona’s athletic director from 1972-82, Strack ushered the Wildcats into the Pac-10 Conference from the Western Athletic Conference, moved into McKale Center, built Kindall/Sancet Stadium and expanded Arizona Stadium. Strack hired football coaches Jim Young and Larry Smith, promoted future Hall of Famers Dave Murray (track and field) and Rick LaRose (golf) and brought in two administrators, Kathleen “Rocky” LaRose and John Perrin, who would remain at the UA for decades.

But it was his hiring of Fred Snowden, the first black head coach at a major university, that made headlines.

“People wanted me to hire Jerry Tarkanian when we moved into McKale Center,” Strack told the Star’s Greg Hansen last year. “But I hired Fred Snowden. It wasn’t about breaking the color barrier, it was because I believed Fred could rebuild our basketball program faster than Tark could …

“He got (Eric) Money and Coniel (Norman), and it was built, almost overnight.”

When Snowden left, Strack hired Ben Lindsey away from Grand Canyon. Lindsey lasted just one year. Cedrick Dempsey replaced Strack in 1983, then hired Lute Olson.

Strack spent his retirement in Tucson. Services are pending.

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Latest Video

More videos

Jan. 27th Sports Insider now available

Get the latest Arizona Wildcats news and fun interactives with this week's edition of the Sports Insider fo…

Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily

Follow Star Sports reporters

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 7 1 0 0.875 19 2 0 0.905
Utah 6 1 0 0.857 16 3 0 0.842
Stanford 6 2 0 0.750 15 5 0 0.750
Oregon State 5 3 0 0.625 13 6 0 0.684
Oregon 4 4 0 0.500 14 7 0 0.667
UCLA 3 4 0 0.429 11 9 0 0.550
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429 10 8 0 0.556
Washington State 3 4 0 0.429 9 10 0 0.474
Washington 3 5 0 0.375 14 6 0 0.700
Arizona State 3 5 0 0.375 12 10 0 0.545
California 1 6 0 0.143 11 9 0 0.550
USC 1 6 0 0.143 9 10 0 0.474

The latest box score