Former LSU AD Joe Dean dies at 83

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Joe Dean, a former LSU basketball star and later the university's athletic director, died Sunday. He was 83.

Dean, whose death in Baton Rouge was confirmed by LSU basketball spokesman Kent Lowe, is one of only three LSU players inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, along with Bob Pettit and Pete Maravich.

Dean, a native of New Albany, Ind., was LSU's top scorer in 1950 and `51. He became the second LSU player with 1,000 career points in 1952, when he was second on the team in scoring behind Pettit.

Dean was the athletic director at LSU for 14 years, beginning in 1987. He played a role in $50 million in facility improvements during that period, and LSU teams won 27 national championships, along with 40 Southeastern Conference titles.

Dale Brown was LSU's men's basketball coach during much of Dean's time as athletic director, and remembered Dean as "a man filled with energy, ideas, business ethics, motivation, candor, a tireless spirit and a deep quest to live life fully."

From 1969 to 1987, Dean was an analyst on SEC basketball broadcasts. He became known for saying, "string music," to describe the sound of a basketball swishing through the net.

"His love of LSU was immense and he was so proud to be its athletics director," Brown said. "Joe promoted this game better than anyone in the SEC and was highly respected by tons of people in the world of sports. Now, `Mr. String Music' is gone, but anyone that knew him intimately will never forget his spirit and tenacity."

Play-by-play announcer Tom Hammond called the years he spent with Dean "magical."

"Broadcasting the games was special, but traveling the back roads of the South together created lasting memories," Hammond recalled. "Joe would share stories from his colorful past in the way that only he could."

Dean also worked as a promotional and marketing executive for Converse, clinching endorsement deals with numerous top college coaches as well as NBA stars, including Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird.

"From his playing days, to his Converse years, broadcasting and athletic administration, he was one of the legendary characters in Southeastern Conference history," Hammond said. "I'll miss him."

Dean, who was preceded in death by his longtime wife, Doris, is survived by his three children: Joe Jr., Mardi and Mark; eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge.

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