R.I. Sports Commission executive director dead at age 63

PROVIDENCE – John Gibbons, the longtime executive director of the Rhode Island Sports Commission, died at the age of 63, the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau announced Monday.

Gibbons, who had more than four decades of experience in the travel and hospitality industry, joined the PWCVB in 2006 and became the Rhode Island Sports Commission executive director in 2010.

Gibbons traveled throughout the country representing Rhode Island and brought lucrative events to the state, including the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, and the NCAA Division III Wrestling and Lacrosse tournaments in 2024 and 2025. 

“John Gibbons used his immense talent, strong work ethic, and boundless passion for sports and for life to build a program that brought millions of dollars into Rhode Island,” Kristen Adamo, CEO and president of the PWCVB, said in a statement. “But more importantly, he was a devoted family man and a wonderful friend. Many of us at the PWCVB have worked with him for more than a decade. He meant a lot to us professionally and even more personally. We are heartbroken and extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”   

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In 2022, Gibbons received the Community Hospitality Ambassador of the Year Award from the Rhode Island Hospitality Association. Among his co-workers, he was loved for his genuine camaraderie and sense of humor while being a friend and mentor to many. 

“I am deeply saddened and shocked by the untimely passing of John. His departure leaves a void that can never be filled, and his memory will forever remain in our hearts,” Farouk Rajab, general manager of the Providence Marriott Downtown and chairman of the PWCVB board of directors, said in a statement. “May we find solace in cherishing the moments we shared and draw strength from the impact he had on our lives. Rest in peace, dear friend.” 

In 2013, Gibbons was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Commissions, where he worked closely with states’ interscholastic and community organizations. 

He received a bachelor’s degree in tourism and travel management from the University of New Haven in 1977. 

Gibbons is survived by his wife, Amy, and their three children.