Coaches, players and others pay tribute to Don Kaull, longtime URI basketball radio voice, who died at 77

Don Kaull, the longtime radio voice of the University of Rhode Island men's basketball team, has died. He was 77.

Kaull, who stepped down ahead of this season, spent 35 years calling Rams games. During that time, the retired insurance executive and former star at Rogers High School and URI called NCAA Tournament victories, Atlantic 10 conference championships and various other big moments in Rhode Island basketball history.

Don Kaull, a 1963 graduate of Rogers High School, in the school’s gymnasium. Kaull, the longtime radio voice of the URI Rams, has died.
Don Kaull, a 1963 graduate of Rogers High School, in the school’s gymnasium. Kaull, the longtime radio voice of the URI Rams, has died.

In a statement released by URI on Monday, Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn said, "I am not sure there is anyone more synonymous with URI Basketball than Don Kaull,. From the first day I arrived on campus, Don's kindness was overwhelming. He wore his love of the University of Rhode Island on his sleeve and was beloved by everyone he came in contact with. I am truly going to miss him. My prayers and condolences to Caroline and their children and grandchildren."

Kaull's longtime broadcast partner Steve McDonald said, "Even more than his tremendous play on the basketball court for URI in the 1960s and his outstanding broadcasting career stretching more than three decades, it is Don's kindness that stands out the most."

Scores of tributes on social media

According to his obituary, Kaull died Saturday at Miriam Hospital in Providence. As word of his passing spread, the URI basketball community expressed its condolences on social media on Sunday afternoon.

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Abu Bakr, the retired chief diversity officer at URI and former Rams star on the hardwood, tweeted, "I was fortunate to have an extended conversation with him about a month ago and we shared Rhody basketball stories. He will be missed. Condolences to Caroline and family."

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Don Kaull, left, and Steve McDonald, right, broadcasting the URI-St. Louis mens' basketball game at the Ryan Center in February 2012.
Don Kaull, left, and Steve McDonald, right, broadcasting the URI-St. Louis mens' basketball game at the Ryan Center in February 2012.

Stone Freeman, who calls Rams basketball games alongside McDonald and Chris DiSano, tweeted, "He was a kind, caring, and generous man. Don was always quick to send me a note when he watched or heard a game I was on the call of."

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Former URI great Delroy James (2007-2011) said Kaull was "a legend, a friend [and] a voice of reason."

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URI men's basketball coach Archie Miller tweeted his condolences to Kaull's family late Sunday. Miller was hired in March but knew of Kaull's reputation long before he called Kingston home. He spent six seasons at Dayton from 2011-17 and led the Flyers in some heated matchups with the Rams during that time.

"Don Kaull is Rhode Island basketball," Miller wrote. "His time with the program preceded mine, but you don't develop a reputation as stellar as his without truly touching the lives of everyone around you.

"We ask every incoming player to commit to the program. Don did that as a player and team captain from 1964-67, but he did not stop there. He committed to 35 more years as a treasured URI radio voice who became known throughout the college landscape.

"My thoughts are with his wife Caroline and the entire Kaull family."

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Kaull graduated as the all-time leading scorer at Rogers High School in Newport in 1963 and went on to a Hall of Fame career at URI, playing for legendary coach Ernie Calverley. He was a three-time letter winner in the 1960s, played in March Madness and enjoyed a successful career in business.

Kaull played for the Rams from 1964-67 and averaged 7.8 points in the last of those three seasons, appearing in 25 games.

“It’s meant a lot,” Kaull said in September in announcing his retirement. “It’s kept me active in the sport of basketball. I think if I was to watch two games a week on TV, I wouldn’t be into it as much as I was."

Kaull, who lived in Portsmouth with his wife, Caroline, made few appearances at Rhode Island games last season. His travel had been limited by an early bout with COVID-19 in 2020 and an ongoing battle against cancer.

Favorite memories calling URI games

Asked back in September about his favorite memories calling URI games, he listed an Elite Eight run and an upset of Kansas in 1998. The Rams' return to the NCAA Tournament in 2017 and 2018 gave Kaull a pair of late-career highlights. URI captured a conference tournament crown to seal the first bid and won a first regular-season title to claim the second.

“Kids don’t realize how important that is,” he said. “It’s something they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives.”

Don Kaull’s jersey hangs in the Rogers High School gym. He scored more than 1,100 points in his years at Rogers.
Don Kaull’s jersey hangs in the Rogers High School gym. He scored more than 1,100 points in his years at Rogers.

Kaull’s jersey hangs in the Rogers High School gym. He scored more than 1,100 points for the boys basketball team during his years at the school, and helped the Vikings win the Rhode Island boys basketball state championship during his senior year.

Kaull is survived by his wife, their three children and several grandchildren.

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This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Don Kaull spent 35 years calling Rams basketball games on radio