Donald "Dee" Rowe is a former coach of the University of Connecticut men's basketball team. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1929 and graduated from Worcester Academy in 1947. After graduating from Middlebury College and serving in the U. S. Army, Rowe returned to Worcester Academy in the fall of 1955 as the Athletic Director and head basketball coach. He quickly built the athletic program into a power in the New England prep school interscholastic athletics and, in addition, his basketball teams won the New England Prep School Championship nine times. In the spring of 1969, Rowe was hired as the head basketball coach at the University of Connecticut and he headed that program from 1969 until 1977. From 1972 to 1977, UConn had winning seasons with one NCAA appearance reaching the final 16, two NIT appearances, and three ECAC tournament appearances with one championship. In 1980, Dave Gavitt appointed Rowe to be an assistant coach of the U. S. Olympic men's basketball team. Rowe continues his involvement with both the Worcester Academy and the University of Connecticut.
Rowe was unable to participate as assistant coach due to the US boycott of the 1980 Olympics. Rowe had a framed picture of the 1980 United States Olympic men's basketball team hanging on his office wall. Although he publicly expressed concern for other athlete, such as soccer players and track athletes who were unlikely to have sports careers after the Olympics, others knew the cancellation of the trip was important to him. Geno Auriemma the Connecticut women's basketball coach, often visited Rowe in his office and saw the picture every time. In 2010, Auriemma was named the head coach of the USA women's basketball team, scheduled to compete in several events, including the 2012 Olympics. In 2010, Auriemma was honored at the Winged Foot Club in New York City to receive an award. Rowe was the individual who "presented" Auriemma. As part of Auriemma's acceptance speech, Geno talk about Rowe's disappointment, and said he hoped to take Rowe with him. Rowe remember hearing it at the time, but the discussion didn't come up again until 2012. As they were making preparations for the Olympics, Auriemma was trying to find a way to bring Rowe along. Auriemma could bring his team and staff members, but Rowe was not part of the USA Basketball staff. He spoke to Warde Manuel, the Connecticut athletic director, and proposed that Rowe be named a university ambassador. There were approximately 250 UConn alumni planning to make the trip, so Rowe could serve as the person to represent the school. The athletic direction, and Susan Herbst, the school president, supported the idea, so Dee Rowe was able to attend the Olympics in an official capacity.