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East County Monday, Feb. 11, 2019 6 months ago

2019 Dick Vitale Gala honorees announced

Dabo Swinney, Avery Johnson and Chris Fowler are coming to town
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Dabo Swinney, Avery Johnson and Chris Fowler: It is your turn. 

Lakewood Ranch resident Dick Vitale and The V Foundation for Cancer Research announced in a release Feb. 11 that the trio would be the honorees at the 14th-annual Dick Vitale Gala, to be held May 10 at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. 

Swinney, the head coach of the Clemson University football team, is coming off his second national title win in January, 44-16 over the University of Alabama. Swinney, 49, won his first national title in 2016, also against Alabama. He has been the coach of the Tigers since 2008 and is a two-time ACC Coach of the Year (2015, 2018). Swinney was named the AP College Football Coach of the Year in 2015.

Johnson, the head coach of the University of Alabama men's basketball team, has had a prolific career. He played in the NBA from 1988-2004, and was best known for playing with the San Antonio Spurs from 1994-2001. He hit the game-winning shot in game five of the 1998-1999 NBA Finals to give the Spurs the series over the New York Knicks. After his playing career, Johnson coached the Dallas Mavericks from 2004-2008, leading the team to the NBA's best record in 2006-2007. After a brief television stint with ESPN, Johnson coached the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets from 2010-2012. He has been the coach of the Crimson Tide since 2015, and currently has the team at a 15-8 record and fifth in the Southeastern Conference.

Fowler is a college football broadcaster with ESPN. He hosted popular preview show "College Gameday" from 1990-2014. In 2014, he became the play-by-play announcer for "Saturday Night Football" on ABC and of the College Football Playoffs and National Championship Game. Fowler also does play-by-play on major tennis broadcasts on ESPN, like the U.S. Open. He has also worked on coverage of the X Games, horse racing and the FIFA World Cup. 

"Once again, we have put together a superstar group of honorees," Vitale said. "How lucky we are that we will have Coach Swinney, Coach Johnson and ESPN’s Chris Fowler. I’m also excited to keep the spirit and memory of John Saunders alive through the John Saunders V Foundation Courage Award, which will go to two very special guests."

The Courage Award recipients, who are "inspirational individuals using their voice to raise awareness and funding for cancer research," per the release, are ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe and football coach/ESPN broadcaster Lee Corso. 

For more information, visit To purchase gala tickets, call 350-0580.

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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