Florida Citrus Sports Mourns Passing of Longtime Executive Director Chuck Rohe
CHARLES H. “CHUCK” ROHE, 1931-2023
Groundbreaking former Florida Citrus Sports executive director and Tennessee track & field coach built an unforgettable legacy in the sports community.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Charles H. “Chuck” Rohe, a legendary coach and bowl administrator, passed on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, at the age of 92.
Rohe, who served as Executive Director of Florida Citrus Sports from 1982-2002, was an iconic figure in Orlando sports history for his pursuit of big-time events.
Under Rohe’s leadership, the Citrus Bowl game earned the reputation as “The Best Bowl Trip in America” and took significant steps in growth and prestige. In addition to hosting Georgia Tech’s 1990-91 national championship win, the Bowl added its first corporate sponsorships from the Florida Department of Citrus and CompUSA, signed its first nationwide television contracts, including a New Year’s Day date with ABC, and later launched the partnerships with the Big Ten and SEC that have come to define Orlando’s bowl game today.
Along with the exponential growth of Florida Citrus Sports’ foundational event, Rohe’s many accomplishments also include the expansion of what is now Camping World Stadium, launching the Florida Citrus Sports Foundation, bringing the Florida Blue Florida Classic to Orlando and bringing a second college football bowl game (now the Pop-Tarts Bowl) to Florida Citrus Sports.
Rohe also brought NFL exhibition games, regular season neutral field college football games, including Florida State-Notre Dame in 1994, and Olympic Soccer to Orlando.
His tenure at Florida Citrus Sports began after time spent as president of Rohe & Associates and vice-president of Pace Management in Houston, Texas, creating and managing events for the Houston Astrodome. He also served as the National Director of the Nike Coach of the Year Clinics, which attract more than 10,000 football coaches to nearly 20 clinic sites across the United States.
At the helm of the UT men’s track program from 1963-71, Rohe led the Volunteers to a dominant stretch of 21 consecutive SEC titles across cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field. His Tennessee squads sported an impressive 130-18-2 (.873) dual record over nine seasons and finished top-5 in the NCAA on six occasions. He was United States Track & Field Coach of the Year in 1967 and the NCAA representative on the United States Olympic Committee from 1968-76.
Rohe pioneered Tennessee’s rich tradition of dual-sport athletes between the track and football programs. He also directed football recruiting for Doug Dickey teams that posted the nation’s best seven-year record and appeared in seven consecutive bowl games. He was the architect of the nexus between track and football that helped the Vols succeed in both sports. He helped integrate UT Athletics in 1967, helping three Black student-athletes participate in track & field and football.
The Tennessee track & field program honors Rohe’s legacy each year at the Tennessee Relays with the presentation of the Chuck Rohe Leadership Award. The award goes to a student-athlete who consistently displays outstanding leadership with integrity, enthusiasm, diligence, academic excellence and a get-it-done attitude.
He spent time as a coach and administrator at the University of Southern Mississippi, Furman and Virginia Tech.
Rohe was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2019, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Hall of Fame in 2009, the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, the Southern Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.
“Chuck was a legend in sports and entertainment, and he established Orlando as a major player in the world of neutral-site events,” said Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, whom Rohe hired in 1995. “He invested more than 30 years into this community, supporting Florida Citrus Sports and Orlando long after retirement. We owe much of our success as a major sports tourism city to the foundation Chuck built, and he will be missed.”
Services will be private for family and close friends.
In lieu of flowers, you may make a charitable contribution in Chuck Rohe’s name to the following:
Florida Citrus Sports Foundation – floridacitrussports.com One Citrus Bowl Place, Orlando, Florida, 32805
Shepherd’s Hope – shepherdshope.org 101 S. Westmoreland Drive, Orlando, Florida 32805
Special Hearts Farm – specialheartsfarm.com 10557 Oakview Pointe Terrace, Gotha, FL 34747