San Diego, CA (August 14, 2013) – Long-time USRFF Director Dave Sitton passed away unexpectedly Monday morning. He was 58 years old. A native of Los Angeles, Sitton was recruited by the University of Arizona to play baseball but a shoulder injury led him to rugby. He soon fell in love with the sport and for the past 36 years he has played, coached or broadcast the sport of rugby, touching the lives of thousands in the process.
In 1978, the fullback was named Club Sport Athlete of the Year at the University of Arizona. The next year, just after his first tour of England and Wales, he assumed coaching responsibilities at the University of Arizona at the age of 22. He also helped found and played for the Tucson Magpies Club, on which he attained select-side status for the Arizona Rugby Union team.
As coach at Arizona, he had held in his program over 1500 student athletes. The team traveled overseas every two years since 1978 with matches as far north as Edinburgh, Scotland and as far south as Dunedin, New Zealand.
For ten years, Sitton was also the general manager and assistant coach on the USA’s Collegiate All American Team. He was at one time the youngest board member (24 years old) to serve on the USARFU board of directors.
Sitton has broadcast USA Eagles matches and various national championships for ESPN and Fox since 1978 and has been a fixture at the USA Sevens event in Las Vegas. His first telecast was that of the US/New Zealand match in 1978 in San Diego California. His 1987 call of the first Rugby World Cup on ESPN was seen in the United States and around the world, including South Africa.
Sitton called UA football and basketball games from 1990-2012. He won the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy Award for basketball play-by-play in 2010 and football in 2011.
He ran Enterprise Communications Group, and had worked as marketing director for the UA Cancer Center (himself a cancer survivor), and as a Southern Arizona vice president for Clear Channel Outdoor.
Sitton ran in a Republican special primary to replace former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2012 where he received 17 percent of the vote. Republican party chairwoman Carolyn Cox said she will remember Sitton as a positive and uplifting leader.
He was a member of several important boards in Tucson including the Steele Memorial Children’s Research Foundation, Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Tucson, The Davis Monthan AFB “50” and the Tucson Pops Orchestra. The Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce named Sitton its Man of the Year in 2006.
He is a life member of the Tucson Conquistadores, the Centurions of Carondelet, the University of Arizona rugby program and the National Rifle Association. Sitton was a well-known speaker and much sought after master of ceremonies throughout Arizona.
“Dave was not only my mentor but a great friend,” said USRF Executive Director Brian Vizard, about his broadcast partner for the past 20 years. “Dave was professional in everything he did, be it broadcasting, running his beloved U of A program, or just meeting people. He also had the funniest stories and was one of the best joke tellers on the planet. The USRFF and the entire rugby community lost one of its finest in Dave Sitton.”
He is survived by his two daughters: Olivia and Elizabeth.
Please keep Dave, Olivia and Elizabeth in your thoughts.