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NCAA Cross Country Champions
Hall of Fame Profile: Fred "The Count" Casotti
Release: October 14, 2006
By: CUBuffs.com
Fred Casotti
Photo Courtesy: CUBuffs.com
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Editor's Note: As Hall of Fame week here at CUBuffs.com closes, we feature our final inductee Fred Casotti. Casotti's involvement with CU Athletics spanned 50 years as a publicity director, and later as an associate athletic director. This year’s Hall of Fame festivities started Thursday, with the induction ceremonies at the Omni Interlocken Resort Hotel and will conclude at halftime of today's football game against Texas Tech.

 

As Hall of Fame week grows to a crescendo with Saturday’s football game against Texas Tech, one theme has presented itself as more obvious with each passing day: The impact that Fred “The Count” Casotti had not only on this year’s class of inductees, but on the entire University of Colorado Athletic community.

 

Casotti was one of five individuals, joining the 1959 NCAA champion ski team, to be officially inducted into the sixth class of the CU Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 12. Of the class, it’s Casotti that can claim to have been involved in the athletic or professional careers of all of this year’s inductees, behind the scenes, promoting the best of the Buffaloes.

 

Fred’s daughters, Candy Nesheim and Christine Reichmann accepted the honor for their father, who passed away five years ago to the day of his induction (Oct. 12, 2001), at the age of 77.

 

“Dad used to say that his wife, his children and CU were the loves of his life and in that order, though we used to kid him that CU was really number one,” Candy said as the representative of the family during the induction ceremony.

"Fred Casotti is as responsible as anyone for everything that is going on with me right now,” said fellow inductee Bobby Anderson who will also enter the College Football Hall of Fame in December. “I understand the behind the scenes work that he had to put in for me and I am very appreciative and grateful for what Fred did for me.  There is so much lobbying that goes on and I'm sure it was Fred's campaigning that got me on all of those award teams (All-Big Eight and All American). Furthermore, Fred was an entertaining and bright spokesman for the Colorado Athletic Department when he became the associate athletic director.  He made great impressions on people with his quick wit, his sense of humor and personality.  He really did a lot for this University."

Casotti graduated from CU in 1949 with a degree in journalism. After returning to his native Iowa for three years to work as the assistant sports editor of the Council Bluffs Nonpariel, he returned to Colorado midway during the 1952 football season to take over as the Buffs' sports publicity director. Little did he realize then it would be the beginning of an association for a half-century with CU athletics.

 

He would work as CU's publicity man through 1968, when football coach and athletic director Eddie Crowder named him associate athletic director. He remained in that capacity until 1985, when nearing the end of his professional career, he took the title of special assistant to athletic director and fellow inductee Bill Marolt. He helped Marolt, only the third athletic director in CU history, set up his administration until retiring from CU in 1987.

“I was a student-athlete and he was the SID, and when I was athletic director, he was the associate athletic director,” Marolt said. “We worked together for about 35 years. Later on, he became one of my closest confidants. With us in the same class, it’s like acknowledging us as a family.”

Dave Plati, CU's current Associate Athletic Director/Sports Information Director, named Casotti the school's official historian shortly after his retirement. Fred worked for years coordinating alumni, media and video requests, special projects, reunion banquets and even helped with CU's football scheduling for a number of years. Despite battling the effects a series of strokes, he still took calls from those inquiring about CU's history and helped with an exhibit about the history of CU Athletics at the on-campus Heritage Center that opened just one day after his death.

 

Fred, who could attach humor to anything, once described his role as historian as, "one that demands great age."

 

In 1996, he was inducted into the College Sports Information Director's (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame, the first and only CU employee to earn the profession's highest honor. In September of 2001, the fourth level of the press box, informally known for years as writer's row, was renamed on his behalf. CU's media golf tournament, begun back in 1989, is also named for him (The Count Casotti Classic).

 

“Fred was a legend, not only at CU, but in the profession,” Plati said. “For him not to get into the SID Hall of Fame until 1996 was unfathomable to me.  But he got in, and he was as entertaining as ever in his acceptance, even winning over those who were born after he technically left the business.

”I could not 'count' the ways, pun intended, that he helped me during my career.”

 

Long respected as one of the nation's top athletic publicity men, Casotti developed a personal style unmatched by any in the profession. He used poetry and limericks throughout his press releases, which brought unprecedented attention to CU's athletic program as it burst on the national scene in the 1950's. The same brand of humor and uniqueness made him a hit on the banquet circuit, both in Colorado and around the nation.

 

Fred summed up his success in a 1996 one-page resume of his career found in his department file: "Blending a perky personality with the required minimum of talent, he (Casotti) quickly established a reputation by spicing his news releases with questionable limericks which caught his readers' eyes but not necessarily those of his superiors. But he rode out some storms and continued to pump out his doggerel."

 

Some of the greatest relationships he forged came about from his association with the United States Ski Team. He was a press aide at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., and was the manager of the U.S. Alpine team for the '64 Olympics at Innsbruck, Austria.

 

“Fred was a wonderful man and friend,” said Gary Gisle, fellow Hall of Fame inductee as a member of the 1959 NCAA champion ski team.  “He was the epitome of professionalism and knowledge. He was very involved in all the sports. He knew everyone and made it to a lot of our competitions. He did everything he could to get us the best publicity. He got us into Sports Illustrated -- that was a big deal. He was very humorous, you had to have fun around him.”

 

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Fred,” Bob Beattie, coach of the ’59 ski team said during the induction ceremony. “There isn’t one of us who doesn’t miss having ‘Casotts’ up here with us tonight,” added team member John Dendahl. “He was one of us and he was terrific.”

 

Crowder was quoted in a March 11, 1987 article in the Boulder Daily Camera: “One of the most valuable assets was what I call a cabinet-member role, somebody you went to for sage counsel anytime you needed to decide on something. (Fred) had a keen touch for the inner-workings of college athletics.

 

“There is no better way to sum up Fred and my association with him,” said Tim Simmons, CU SID from 1979-81. “Eddie's quote is so true, but I would add that he was Crowder's chief of staff.  When I was at CU, Fred was the mainstay of the Athletic Department.  If you had or created a problem, Fred was always there with a solution. Fred always saw something good in everyone. I always thought of him as a mentor. During the rough times for CU Athletics during my tenure in Boulder -- 4-18 football team, NCAA sanctions, the dropping of seven sports, etc. - Fred helped me with those public relations nightmares. Thankfully for me and CU, Fred provided valuable support and guidance. "The Count" is really "Mr. Buff" forever.

 

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