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November 18, 2013

Mr. LSU, Joe Dean, dies

Star athlete, announcer was a 1948 graduate of NAHS

— The basketball analyst known for his phrase “string music” after a player hit nothing but net with a jump shot, has died.  

Joe Dean, a 1948 graduate of New Albany High School, was found dead in his Baton Rouge, La., apartment Sunday morning. He was 83.

Dean played basketball at LSU from 1949 to 1952 and was the school’s athletic director from 1987-2000. However, most will remember him best for working as a basketball analyst during college games in the 1970s and ’80s. His distinctive voice, and his “string music” phrase, were known by basketball fans from coast to coast.

However, to his friends in New Albany, he was known as just a great guy and someone who would do anything for you. He was also known for being a pretty good basketball player.

“He was well liked and a really good athlete,” said Ed Roth, a 1946 graduate of New Albany who played basketball with Dean for one year in high school. “He was very thin in high school, but he could sure shoot the basketball.”

Roth said he and Dean grew up in the same area of the city. He said Dean was “just a good fella.”

“I really enjoyed having him as a friend,” Roth said. “I knew in the last three years he had had some health issues. He had been to the Cleveland clinic with heart problems and had had pneumonia.”

Roth said Dean would come back to New Albany at least one time a year to meet with friends and former NAHS teammates. The two talked regularly on the phone, and Roth said he could tell his friend was having some health issues during their last conversation. Roth said Dean was scheduled to return to New Albany on Dec. 2 for the reunion.

“I talked to him two weeks ago and he didn’t sound like himself,” Roth said.

Dean was a standout performer at New Albany. He was a two-year starter and was the team’s leading scorer his senior year, leading the Bulldogs to the semistate. He was named third team all-state.

While at LSU, he was a three-time all-Southeastern Conference performer and led the Tigers in scoring twice. He was an alternate on the 1956 Olympic team and played four seasons with the Phillips 66 Oilers after graduating from LSU.

He worked as a salesman for Converse Inc., and in 1977 was promoted to vice president of marketing, promotions and sales. He later became part owner of the company.

For years, he also worked as a basketball color commentator for college games before being named athletic director of LSU in 1987.

Under Dean's leadership, LSU sports claimed 27 national titles, more than any other SEC school in that time, according to school’s website. After retiring from LSU, he opened a consulting office in Baton Rouge.

Dean is not only a member of the New Albany High School and LSU halls of fame, he is also in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame as well as the National Collegiate Hall of Fame.

Dean’s visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Rabenhorst Funeral Home, at 825 Government St., Baton Rouge. His funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First United Methodist Church, 930 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.

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