Students walk through the campus of UCLA. Photo by John Schreiber.
Students walk through the campus of UCLA. Photo by John Schreiber.

Story updated at 1:15 p.m., Nov. 15, 2014

Pete Dalis, who saw UCLA athletes win 39 NCAA championships during his 19 years as the Bruins’ athletics director, died of cancer Saturday.

The school announced that Dalis, 76, was surrounded by his family when he succumbed to multiple myeloma at his Pacific Palisades home, west of the campus.

Under his leadership, 22 men’s teams and 17 women’s teams won national championships. The Bruin football team won 20 straight games, recorded four 10- win seasons and played in 12 bowl games, winning eight.

The men’s basketball team played in the NCAA tournament 15 times, reaching the Sweet 16 seven times, climbed to the Elite 8 twice, and took the title in 1995.

Peter Thomas Dalis was born on Los Angeles to Greek immigrant parents Anastasia and Tom on Dec. 8, 1937, according to biographical information from the school.

Dalis began attending UCLA after graduating from Los Angeles Manual Arts High School, and he never left Westwood. He was manager of the school football team for four years, and in 1955 started to work his way up in the UCLA Department of Cultural and Recreational Affairs.

President Charles E. Young appointed him A.D. in 1983. At that point, UCLA had no endowed athletics scholarships, and Dalis oversaw fundraising of $24 million in such funds.

Dalis helped negotiate lucrative television contracts for the Pac-10 conference, and guided construction of offices for coaches and facilities for both student athletes and recreation-seeking students.

The John R. Wooden Center in the heart of the Westwood campus was close to his heart, as he drafted the original feasibility study in 1975, was responsible for its design and construction, which culminated in its opening in 1983.

That was the centerpiece of the UCLA Olympic Village of 1984, and Dalis was the UCLA delegate to the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee’s Citizen Advisory Commission.

Dalis was survived by his wife, Margaret Wigmore Dalis, and her two children, as well as his brother Gus, his wife Helen, great grandnephews and a great-grandniece, according to UCLA.

A viewing will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 1324 S. Normandie Ave., in Los Angeles. Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the cathedral.

The family asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the UCLA Scholarship Fund in the name of Pete Dalis.

—City News Service

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