HAMDEN, Conn. -- Burt Kahn, considered the driving force behind the development of Quinnipiac University's athletic teams into a NCAA Division One program, died in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday. The Hamden resident was 74.
As Quinnipiac's athletic director from 1961 to 1995, Mr. Kahn expanded the school's sports program from three men's teams to 16 teams, men's and women's.
When he started, Quinnipiac played in the NAIA program, and when he retired, the school was preparing to enter Division One of the NCAA.
In the early days, he juggled a variety of roles, including that of intermural director and sports information director. He was also the head basketball coach, serving from 1961 to 1991 and compiling a 459-358 record, including six seasons with 20 or more wins.
Friends and colleagues recalled that Mr. Kahn had a gruff exterior and a prickly personality, but he also had a compassionate side.
"I look back and just wish he were more comfortable showing everybody that soft, compassionate side, because it's what made Burt so special," said Bill Mecca, who succeeded Mr. Kahn as head basketball coach. "He lived in either black or white, and I spent a lot of time trying to convince him that gray was a good color."
Quinnipiac named its gymnasium and basketball court after Mr. Kahn in 1996. He will be inducted posthumously into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in September.
Mr. Kahn also had been the director of athletics for the Meriden Boys' Club.
He was born in New York in 1930. He leaves two sisters and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. today at Temple B'Nai Abraham in Meriden.