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After 35 Years,
Oct. 12, 2001, will go down as a sad day for everybody associated with the University of Colorado, for we lost a great one as Fred Casotti passed on at the age of 77.
After 50 years of service to the CU athletic department, first as a sports publicity director then associate athletic director and finally as historian, Casotti touched everybody who had the great fortune of coming into contact with him.
The following is a story published by the Boulder Daily Camera after Casotti retired as Associate AD in 1987. (keyed in by CU student assistant Mike Milar):
Casotti, 63, has worked at CU sports as information director (1953-68), associate athletic director for both Eddie Crowder and Bill Marolt (1968-85) and, most recently, as a special assistant to Marolt, the current athletic director.
Casottis wife, Darlene, suffered a stroke on Feb. 19, and he will spend his time helping her recover.
been talking to Bill about (full retirement) before Darlene got sick,
Casotti said. Hes got a good team on board now, and the situation
is well in hand. As he brings in his men, my usefulness for him declines.
Casotti said it is possible he will continue to assist Marolt on a limited basis after his wifes recovery. Bill has casually mentioned some one-time projects that might involve somebody like me. I hope to be able to come back and help in any special way I can.
Though his last 19 years at CU were in administration, Casotti probably is best known for the unique personal touch he adopted while serving as the schools sports information director.
Known as The Count, Casotti spiced up his weekly press releases with a poem or two some of which werent always G-rated.
A native of Fraser, Iowa, Casotti got the idea from Bert McGrane, who covered University of Iowa football for the Des Moines Register and was secretary of a football writers group. His bulletins for the writers usually contained poems. That and my fascination with the Burma a Shave signs.
Casotti started the tradition during the 1956 football season, and recalled, The first one got me blasted.
CU was playing unbeaten and top-ranked Oklahoma, which had just routed Notre Dame in South Bend. On Monday, Casottis entire release consisted of a short verse: this is it; Sooners coming, leave us git. (He mailed the complete release the following day.)
Later that week, Casotti recalled, Denver Post sports editor Jack Carberry wrote a column blasting CU for its pessimistic attitude about the upcoming game.
It got such a reaction I thought, Maybe weve got something here, Casotti said. From that, I created Count Casotti, and probably more people remember me for that than anything. But I always thought that (newspapermen) get a hundred released a week and all hundred are the same. If I can make mine a little different, maybe theyll get read.
of Casottis brand of humor after a game in the 1972 season:
Casotti, who earned a degree in journalism from CU in 1949 and was a sports writer on Cedar Rapids, Iowa, daily before returning to Boulder in 53, used his way with words to write two books about University of Colorado football.
a personal recollection, was written after the 1971 season, the year the
Buffs finished third nationally, and was called Football CU* Style
(Casotti Uncensored). It covered the years 1947-71.
The second book, The Golden Buffaloes, was written in 1980 and is a straight historical account of CU football.
Football CU* Style is Casottis favorite of the two, by far.
I wrote it so fast that I really didnt know what was in it, he said. But now Im very proud of it. Its not only factual and opinionated, but its interesting and fun.
Casotti said that he preferred working as sports information director than as an athletic administrator. In sports information, there was so much more involvement with the athletes and coaches. The kids from 1952-67 were like my brothers; I had a personal relationship with every one of them. In administration, you become a pencil pusher and youre isolated, not only from the players and coaches, but the press. I had thousands of friends in the press.
However, in 1968, Casotti had tired of sports information work. He seriously considered leaving CU to find a better-paying job.
When I went to tell Eddie (Crowder), he immediately took some steps to try to keep me in the department, Casotti said. He created a position that Jack Mills had had. Eddie offered it to me out of the blue; it was a total surprise. It was like moving the downstairs to upstairs.
In fact, that is exactly what happened. Casotti became Crowders right-hand man and moved his office directly overhead, one flight of stairs up in Folsom Stadium.
He did it with a marvelous touch, Crowder said. He did fund-raising, handled the non-income sports, handled womens sports when we had to incorporate them under Title IX. Hes a very capable guy who did a remarkable job in a lot of different areas.
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. He had a keen touch for the inner-workings of college athletics.
Casotti believes he served under Crowder during CUs golden years in athletics: 1968-73, when the football team, which was coached by Crowder, was riding a wave of unparalled success.
I was doing a lot of the director things he needed to delegate to me, Casotti said. After he resigned (following the 73 season) we worked just as closely together, but he didnt have that football job to occupy a lot of his energy. It was a little frustrating for both of us, but we still enjoyed it.
Casotti thinks Crowder has been given a raw deal because of the Chuck Fairbanks fiasco.
I love the guy and I thought that he did a great job, Casotti said of Crowder, who retired as athletic director in 1984. Its sad that what we thought and so did everybody in the state was going to be one of our greatest strokes turned out to be a disaster. It put an unfair shadow on the job Eddie had done for 20 years. Too many people tend to judge him and overrate the Fairbanks part of his career here.
In 1984 Casotti
was reunited with an old friend when Marolt was named to replace Crowder.
Marolt, a former football press box runner for Casotti, was
a CU skier while Casotti was sports information director and was the CU
ski coach from 1969-78 when Casotti was Crowders assistant.
He was instrumental in hiring me to become the ski coach, as were his efforts and support in CU winning seven national titles while I was here and two after I left, Marolt said.
Since I returned, Fred has been a very close confidant because of his knowledge of the business and CU in the 35 years hes been here. Not only will the athletic department miss him, but also the entire university.
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