Donn Bernstein, a former UCSB sports information director and top executive with ABC Sports, passed away on Wednesday in New York.
A family friend said that Bernstein, 83, suffered a fall several weeks ago and eventually succumbed to pneumonia.
He was known affectionately as “Bernie” while serving as the Gauchos’ SID from 1964 to 1972. He kept his residence in Isla Vista for much of his life and also remained active in UCSB athletic alumni activities. He was inducted into the Gaucho Hall of Fame in 2002.
Bernstein graduated from San Francisco’s Lowell High School in 1953 and majored in journalism at San Francisco State. He spent three years in the Marine Corps and worked as a correspondent for the Pacific Stars and Stripes in Tokyo.
He returned to the Bay Area to work for two years as the assistant sports editor of the Berkeley Gazette. He also served as the Berkeley correspondent for United Press International.
Bernstein’s coverage of a historic, 1962 track meet at Stanford between the United States and the former Soviet Union earned him an Associated Press Achievement in Journalism Award.
He also spent a year as a copy editor and track writer for the San Francisco Examiner before new Gaucho football coach Jack Curtice, the former coach at Stanford, lured Bernstein to UCSB in 1964 to head up the department’s media relations department.
Bernstein left UCSB in 1972, several months after the university dropped its football program, to become the director of athletic media relations for the University of Washington. He was inducted into the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) Hall of Fame in 1982.
He spent 15 years with ABC Sports, coordinating its college sports media coverage. His efforts in producing the network’s college football telecasts prompted USC to make him the first non-alumnus to win its “Tommy Trojan Award.”
Bernstein also worked for 25 years for Cohn & Wolfe, a global communications and public relations firm. He retired in 2016 at age 80.