Legendary BYU basketball coach Dave Rose, who suffered a stroke on New Year’s Eve, continues to progress in his recovery.
BYU deputy athletic director Brian Santiago, who oversees 10 sports, including men’s basketball, worked closely with Rose during Rose’s tenure at BYU.
“I got a FaceTime call from him the other day that energized me. We had a very normal conversation. We were laughing, we were crying,” Santiago said. “There’s some real bright spots for coach Rose moving forward. We’re super grateful for a miraculous recovery that he’s making. He still has a little road ahead of him but certainly the outlook is much more positive than when it happened. He’s doing much better.”
This is the latest health issue Rose has had to deal with in recent years. He battled a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2009. Then, just months after his retirement in 2019, he suffered a major heart attack.
“He’s had some tough breaks the last couple of years but this guy is a fighter,” Santiago said. “It’s really been miraculous. We all point to heaven and we don’t have to be quiet about it. We really believe that heaven’s hand has been involved in his recovery. We’re praying for him. He’s super important to us. We’re grateful for the progress that he’s made.”
Since this latest health setback, Rose and his family have received numerous messages of gratitude and encouragement from many people.
“What’s been super uplifting are the people from literally around the world that have reached out, from coaches and former players, coming together and fasting on his behalf,” Santiago said. “There have been media members from around the country sending encouraging videos. The outpouring of love has been inspiring when you realize how many people really care about him.
“When they call, they talk about, ‘This is one of the class acts that’s ever been in the game. He was always great with us.’ They consider him a friend. Some of those positive messages have had a part in his uptick as well.”
Rose arrived at BYU in 1997 as an assistant coach under Steve Cleveland, at about the same time Santiago was hired as part of Cleveland’s staff. Santiago moved into the school’s athletic administration in 2001.
In 2005, Rose was hired as the Cougars’ head coach, a position he held for 14 seasons.
“He had a remarkable career at BYU,” Santiago said. “The championships, all the success, breaking through and winning games in the NCAA tournament, getting to the Sweet 16, handling adversity in an amazing way. The winning says what it says.”
A decade ago, in 2011, Rose led the Cougars to their first Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament in 30 years. Guard Jimmer Fredette earned consensus national player of the year honors.
But Santiago says Rose’s legacy at BYU extends far beyond what happened on the court.
“I think his legacy at BYU is that he ran an unbelievably great program with unbelievably great student-athletes. And I think his legacy is that our national respect level went up while he was running our program. The respect from around the country was at a very high level. People know that he did it with integrity and he did it with class.”
An intense competitor like Rose, Santiago recalls the effort they made to achieve lofty goals.
“He’s one of my close friends and we did this together for a long time. We had big dreams when we started. We chased them. We were within a free throw here or a break there to do something that nobody ever thought we could do here,” he said. “I’ll forever believe that other than a tough break with that team with Jimmer and those guys during the year, I think that team was destined to go to the Final Four and win it all. We can all dream. I’ll go to my grave thinking that was a reality.”