Final Four ref, Denver radio pioneer Irv Brown dies at 83

DENVER -- Irv Brown, a Final Four referee who also coached baseball at the University of Colorado, did color commentary on ESPN's first college football broadcast and pioneered sports radio in Denver, died Sunday. He was 83.

Brown's nephew confirmed the death. Details were not immediately available.

Brown officiated in four of UCLA's Final Fours in the 1960s and '70s. He forged strong working relationships with everyone from Bob Knight to Dick Vitale, who tweeted that Brown had the whistle for his last appearance as a coach in the NCAA tournament in 1977.

Brown was a fixture on talk radio in Denver, working with longtime partner Joe Williams on shows that spanned four decades.

He also coached baseball at Colorado before that program was shut down in 1980. Always quick with a quip, he once said: "I made CU baseball what it is today. Extinct."

Brown was in the booth for ESPN's first college football telecast, a game between Colorado and Oregon in 1979.

"ESPN is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Denver legend, Irv Brown," the company said in a statement Sunday. "A pioneer in sports talk radio for more than four decades, he contributed to a variety of live events on ESPN in the company's formative years. He will be missed by listeners and colleagues alike."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.