Dean Crowley, longtime Commissioner of the former Foothill Conference, was one of the most recognizable people associated with athletics in California. Besides providing outstanding service to the California Community College Athletic Association, Dean was a legendary leader as Commissioner of the very large CIF-Southern Section. He was also an exemplary official and assigner, and served countless organizations throughout Southern California.
Dean passed away on May 24 and his family, friends and colleagues will gather on Friday afternoon for a Celebration of Life at 1 p.m. at Friendly Hills Country Club in Whittier to remember a leader whose life was ingrained in sports.
Jerry White, Commissioner of the Western State Conference, and Rich Kollen, Commissioner of the South Coast Conference, are just two of the many colleagues who worked with Dean and, more importantly, were his friends. They shared some wonderful thoughts about Dean below.
Jerry White, WSC Commissioner
"Dean was a fountain of athletic information at all levels in Southern California. His experiences with the C.I.F-Southern Section and state high school athletics gave him a solid foundation for dealing with community college athletics. Dean was always willing to help anyone with his thoughtful and caring advice. His leadership in athletics at all levels will be sorely missed."
"Dean was a very nice man and a true friend to many people. I'm proud to say I was one of them."
Rich Kollen, SCC Commissioner
“I knew Dean for 40 years and he and I roomed together at so many events. He was influential in the start of the SCFA (Southern California Football Association) and helped (Commissioner) Jim Sartoris put it together. He’s always been very supportive of the organization.”
“Dean never said no. If you asked him to be on a committee or take on an assignment, he was always the first one to have his hand up. He like to volunteer for everything he could.”
“He was a great listener and the schools in the Foothill Conference really liked him. We think of him as a big part of the CCCAA for so many years but he was also a giant in Southern California high school athletics. Up until recently, he was still helping organize the state football and basketball championships as well for track and field.”
“He live a great life and will be missed.”
The story below ran in the Los Angeles Times following Dean's passing last month.
Dean Crowley, former CIF-Southern Section commissioner, dies at 85
By Eric Sondheimer
Los Angeles Times
Dean Crowley, a dedicated coach, official and administrator who served as commissioner of the Southern Section from 1993 to 1999, died on Friday night at City of Hope, his grandson Connor said. He was 85.
Crowley, a graduate of Alhambra High and Whittier College, joined the Southern Section office as an assistant commissioner in 1976. He was the choice to replace Stan Thomas in 1993 when Thomas was forced to resign for misusing a personal expense account.
It was a difficult time for Crowley to be stepping in, with a budget deficit, staff issues and a lack of confidence in the office. Crowley used his leadership skills to restore stability and confidence.
“Dean took over the section at a time when it was most vulnerable,” said assistant commissioner Thom Simmons in an email. “Orange County had come very close to breaking off. The office was reeling from Stan Thomas’ resignation and the organization was facing financial troubles.”
Upon his retirement in 1999, Crowley said, "I'm proud of the work I've done. We're financially sound, we brought the section into an era of technology with our website and computer links and we've really made an effort to support sportsmanship and ethical conduct. I also think that with our championship events, we do as well as anybody."
There have been only nine commissioners in the history of the Southern Section, which was created in 1913 and is the largest section of the California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body of high school sports.
Born on May 11, 1934, in Alhambra, Crowley played basketball and tennis in high school. In 1957, he was drafted into the Army and became a sergeant in the military police. He later became a teacher, coach and athletic director at Cerritos Gahr. He also served as a football official, working several bowl games through the years. After his retirement, he helped supervise championship events for the state CIF and continued working with officials.
“He was a wonderful, giving, caring person,” said former City Section commissioner Hal Harkness, who worked with Crowley for more than 30 years.
Among the athletes who passed through Southern Section schools during Crowley’s era were Tiger Woods, Lindsay Davenport, Misty May and Baron Davis.