NEW YORK (AP) 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.
He served on the NCAA's Division I Basketball Committee from 1980-84 and was its chairman when the tournament expanded to 64 teams and the first of its contracts with CBS was negotiated.
When he left the Big East in 1990, Gavitt joined the Boston Celtics' front office, succeeding Red Auerbach in running the franchise. He was fired in 1994.
Gavitt served as chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 2006.
Those closest to Gavitt said he was always tinkering with the idea of getting the season off to a blockbuster start.
"Dave was about events and he was always talking about the start of the season," said Mike Tranghese, the Big East's first employee hired by Gavitt and his successor as commissioner. "He would be so happy about this, not only the great games but especially with the relationships between the conferences.
"Dave created the Big East-ACC Challenge, the first of all the early-season challenges. Even back then he talked about getting the season started with a bang. He wanted everybody in the country to have that one opening day. He would have a smile today about this, but if he were here he'd be thinking about getting everybody in the country involved."
The Big Ten will continue its series with the ACC.
"That has been a breakthrough and this will be as well," Delany said.
Each of the 10 Big East teams will participate a minimum of six times over the eight years, while the Big Ten schools will participate a minimum of four times with the conference expanding to 14 members next season.
This could also help develop rivalries between schools that haven't faced each other for various reasons such as Georgetown-Maryland and Xavier-Ohio State.
"No matchup is out; no matchup is in," Delany said.
Dan Gavitt, the NCAA vice president of the men's basketball championship, said his father would be proud to have the series named after him.
"He was a giant in our game," Dan Gavitt said. "The things that were important when he was doing them still are today - relationships, collaborations, getting things done for the common good. His spirit can still help college basketball in those things and that's something we need right now."