Irv Brown, the Final Four referee who also coached baseball at University of Colorado, did color commentary on ESPN’s first college football broadcast and pioneered sports radio in Denver, died Sunday. He was 83.
Brown’s nephew confirmed the death. Officials at CU said he died of complications from a brief illness.
Brown officiated in four of UCLA’s Final Fours in the 1960s and ‘70s. He forged strong working relationships with everyone from Bob Knight to Dick Vitale, who tweeted that Brown had the whistle for his last appearance as a coach in the NCAA Tournament in 1977.
Sorry to learn of the passing of IRV BROWN a terrific ref for years in the @NCAA . Irv also was a big time tv/radio personality in Denver ! He worked my last game in March Madness when my @UDMDetroit Titans played #1 @umichbball in Sweet 16 in 1977 @Rupp_Arena May he RIP— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) February 3, 2019
Brown was a fixture on talk radio in Denver, working with longtime partner Joe Williams on shows that spanned four decades and included dozens of other co-hosts and guest hosts.
“I learned a great deal from him,” Dave Logan, the former NFL receiver who is now the radio voice of the Broncos, said in an interview with CU’s athletic department. “You can do good sports talk and be informative and entertaining, yet not take yourself too seriously.”
Brown also coached baseball at Colorado before that program was shut down in 1980. Always quick with a quip , he once said: “I made CU baseball what it is today. Extinct.”
Brown was in the booth for ESPN’s first college football telecast, a game between Colorado and Oregon in 1979.
His TV work covered the gamut — from bowling, to women’s bodybuilding to color commentary on Nuggets games. And he was every bit as friendly with the powerful coaches as he was with the parking lot attendants.
“Name another superb game official and umpire who became a radio star and didn’t have any enemies. You can’t do it,” said longtime friend, Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff.