It was during a game in 2018 when Dabo Swinney first met Dick Vitale.
Like everyone else, Swinney had always watched Vitale and his comical antics as a color analyst for ESPN’s college basketball coverage. He is a big fan of the former college basketball coach turned television personality.
“I have always liked Dick Vitale,” Swinney said. “He is one of those guys that you just grow up kind of … ‘That’s Dick Vitale!’”
So, when Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret asked Swinney to go on air with Vitale during a 2018 home basketball game, the Tigers’ head football coach jumped at the opportunity.
“That was pretty cool for me,” Swinney said. “I was like, ‘I am on the air with Dick Vitale.’ So, that was pretty cool.”
It was in that same moment Vitale told Swinney what a fan he was of him, and he was going to reach out to him because his foundation wanted to honor Clemson’s two-time national championship coach.
“He told me about his foundation and what they do and once a year they honor two or three people,” Swinney said.
Vitale was a man of his word. Swinney will be one of three major honorees at the 14th annual Dick Vitale Gala on May 10 in Sarasota, Fla. Noted ESPN broadcaster Chris Fowler and former NBA and Alabama head coach Avery Johnson will also be honored at the affair that will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Sarasota, Fla.
“I’m excited to go down there and be a part of it,” Swinney said. “It will be fun.”
ESPN broadcasters Holly Rowe and Lee Corso also will be honored at the event that annual attracts over 900 people. They will each be recipients of the John Saunders V Foundation Courage Award.
“It will be a lot of fun. I am sure I will meet a lot of neat people there,” Swinney said.
The mission of the Dick Vitale Gala is to raise funds for premiere pediatric cancer research across the nation while simultaneously promoting awareness of pediatric cancer and how devastating it is to our children and their families. As in prior years, net funds raised are utilized for the best research nationwide so that one day no child will have to experience this horrific disease.
The Dick Vitale Gala has raised over $25 million the previous 13 years, including a record $3.7 million last year.