Sportscaster Dick Galiette dies at age 72

Saturday in Philadelphia, in the Yale football team’s worst game in recent memory, there was something conspicuously absent – and it had nothing to do with yards or points or turnovers.

Dick Galiette, the legendary voice of Yale football on 960-AM WELI, died Friday night at St. Raphael’s Hospital. He was 72.

Galiette called Yale’s 28-21 loss at Lehigh last Saturday but reported feeling ill the next day. He had been in a coma since Tuesday.

Galiette provided the soundtrack to Yale football since 1963, excluding a 10-year hiatus from 1988-97 when Yale changed radio affiliates. He also spent 18 years as sports director of WTNH-8 beginning in 1964.

For a brief period Galiette broadcast college football games for ABC and was an early anchor at ESPN. A seven-time winner of the Connecticut Sportscaster of the Year award, Galiette taught at the University of New Haven and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. He was also executive director of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association, a position he had held since 1999. Galiette was honored by the Jimmy Fund, Walter Camp Football Foundation and the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, among other organizations. His charitable work included drug education and violence prevention among young athletes.

Galiette, a 1951 Southington High School graduate, attended New York Military Academy and the U.S. Naval School of Journalism before joining the Marines and beginning his storied broadcasting career.

Carm Cozza, head coach of Yale football for 32 years and Galiette’s broadcast partner on WELI for the last eight, remembered Galiette for the dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism he brought to work every day.

“We go back to 1965 when I first became head coach,” Cozza said. “He had a TV show on Channel 8 and I was part of it every Sunday. He would have a couple of our players on and he liked that. Then he did our radio for so many years. I’d see him a lot, and I could tell he had a genuine interest in the players themselves. I don’t know if he missed any practices. There were things he could do in the afternoons like watch TV or read a book, but he really enjoyed being with the players. He did a real thorough job and he was a professional.”

The bespectacled Galiette, with his long ears, sparse hair and recurrent smile, was a ubiquitous presence at Yale practices and a welcome sight for players.

“I met him my freshman year here, out at practice,” quarterback and current captain Jeff Mroz ’06 said. “He came to every single practice since I’ve been here. He took a personal interest in the players. He really enjoyed being at practice and the players enjoyed having him out there. He was a very enjoyable man to be around.”

Mroz added that he and Galiette had been in constant e-mail correspondence this season. He and the other Yale players found out about Galiette’s death prior to Saturday’s 38-21 loss at Penn.

“It was pretty emotional,” Mroz said. “Obviously when you lose a guy like that who meant so much to the program and to the players it’s tough to take.”

During his sabbatical from Yale football last season, Mroz had the privilege of hearing Galiette the way millions over the years have.

“Last year I wasn’t able to play so I listened to his broadcast on the radio,” Mroz said. “You could see how his hard work paid off.”

In the booth Galiette was of a stock rarely seen in the 21st century. He would opine about strategy and execution but only when truly appropriate. And when he did speak up, he did so with the weight of four decades of careful study undergirding his critique.

“To me, Dick was the consummate professional, the guy who was always dressed to a T,” said Steve Conn, Yale assistant athletic director and sports publicity director. “He wore a shirt and tie to games no matter the weather conditions. He felt that was the way he should represent the radio station and the football program and he never deviated from that in the way he acted. There are not many people around who, when they think of Connecticut sports media or broadcasters, wouldn’t think of Dick Galiette.”

Galiette’s tireless reporting could be seen every Saturday, in one of New Haven’s finest autumnal traditions, when he would paint a vivid picture of Yale’s gridiron travails with exhaustive detail and a subtle change in pitch. Galiette had the habit of offering a player’s height, weight and hometown whenever he mentioned him — and one never got the sense he was referring to a roster.

“The amount of time he put in to do a Yale football radio broadcast is pretty amazing,” Yale coach Jack Siedlecki said after the Penn game. “You would have thought he was doing a network production every week. He knew our depth chart, he knew our players, he came to our press conference, he’d ask questions about the other team.”

Galiette, who was born Aug. 27, 1933 in Southington, is survived by his wife and two children.

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