Dave Sitton spent the bulk of his life working with the University of Arizona athletics, and when the coach and broadcaster died suddenly on Monday he was remembered for his devotion to the institution and to state of Arizona.
Sitton suffered a heart attack early on Monday, and died after being taken to the hospital. He was 58.
Sitton was a fixture in the University of Arizona broadcast booth, covering football and basketball games between 1990 and 2012. For his work he earned the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy Award for broadcasting twice — for basketball play-by-play in 2010 and for football the following year.
Dave Sitton, who also played baseball and rugby at Arizona, was a longtime club rugby coach at the university. This year he led the team to the Rugby Sevens championship in Philadelphia.
Sitton was remembered on Monday as an energetic broadcaster with a heart for Arizona.
“Dave definitely understood that life is about giving,” said Bob Elliott, Sitton’s broadcast partner on Wildcats basketball broadcasts and former classmate at Arizona. “If you’ve been blessed, than you help others.”
Though he cut a giant figure in Arizona sports, Dave Sitton had deep involvement in other areas of civic life. He ran in a Republican special primary to fill the seat vacated by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in 2002, and though he lost he was praised by GOP leaders as a positive and uplifting political figure.
Sitton was also involved in many charities, serving on the board of the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority and acting as frequent emcee to local charity events. In 2006 he was named Man of the Year by the Tuscon Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in Tucson that did as much for charity as what Dave did,” said Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson. “He was always the kind of guy that if you needed something, you could call Dave, and he’d know somebody who could help you get things done. … He’s a great guy and I think the community will really miss him.”
Dave Sitton had survived brushes with death before. At age 50 he was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a prognosis he attacked with vigor. Sitton was known to record outgoing voicemail messages that gave updates on his chemotherapy and trash-talked cancer.