April 24, 1999
Former Notre Dame basketball coach Johnny Dee died this morning in Denver, Colo., at the age of 75 after a battle with cancer.
Dee spent seven seasons as Irish head coach from the 1964-65 campaign through the 1970-71 season. He compiled a record of 116-80 (.592), winning 20 or more games in each of his last four seasons in South Bend, the first time that had been accomplished in the history of the program.
He led the Irish to four appearances in the NCAA Tournament — in 1965, ’69, ’70 and ’71. His last two Notre Dame teams advanced to NCAA regional semifinal contests before falling to Kentucky in ’70 and Drake in ’71. His ’68 Irish squad finished third in the National Invitation Tournament. His final team at Notre Dame recorded a noteworthy 89-82 win over UCLA that marked the Bruins’ only loss that year. His ’70 team finished ninth in the final Associated Press and United Press International polls.
Among the standouts he coached at Notre Dame were all-time leading Irish scorer and consensus All-American Austin Carr, who still holds the NCAA Tournament single-game scoring record, and ’68 All-American Bob Arnzen.
Dee attended Notre Dame in 1944-46, playing football (starting one game at quarterback) and basketball (he was a two-year letterwinner in basketball). He earned his degree from Loyola of Chicago in 1947. He served as an Irish assistant basketball coach and received his degree from the Notre Dame law school in 1952.
He became head coach at Alabama at age 28 (and was the youngest head coach in NCAA basketball history at that time), compiling a 68-25 mark in four seasons and winning a Southeastern Conference title in 1956. He coached the NBL D-C Truckers in Denver from 1956-62.
He resigned from his position at Notre Dame following the 1970-71 season and returned to Denver where he practiced law and served for a time as Denver city auditor.
Born John Francis Dee, Jr., in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Sept. 12, 1923, he and his wife, the former Katherine Noeson, were parents of three children.
A memorial service for Dee will be held on Tuesday, April 27, at 7:00 p.m. at Olinger’s Mortuary, 16th and Boulder, in Denver. A funeral mass will take place on Wednesday, April 28, at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Ghost Catholic Church on 1900 California, in Denver.