Dick Vitale explains why he turned down offer to call NCAA Tournament game for CBS Sports
Dick Vitale didn’t want to change history at the very end of his illustrious broadcasting run.
For as much talking about college basketball as the legendary broadcaster has done throughout his career, Vitale has never called an NCAA Tournament game for a United States audience in his career.
And when CBS and Turner broadcasting asked him to change that at the 11th hour of his career, Vitale said no.
The 83-year-old college hoops icon told Sports Illustrated that CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus had recently asked him to call 1 or 2 NCAA Tournament games this March. But Vitale politely declined, ultimately showing his loyalty to ESPN after 40-plus years with the network.
“I was flattered when Sean asked, but I’m 83 now and I want to end my career with just ESPN on my résumé,” said Vitale. “What they did for me this last year has been amazing. They’ve treated me like royalty. It’s been 44 years just with them, and I just want to have ESPN on my résumé.”
Vitale has been dealing with health issues the past few years, including lymphoma and melanoma, but he is cancer free. He also underwent vocal surgery last year, and his doctors have limited him to only calling 1 game per week for ESPN.
Vitale, who joined ESPN when the network began in 1979, added that CBS has asked him in the past to call tournament games “10 and 20 years ago,” but at that time ESPN blocked CBS from using Vitale.
Vitale has called the Final Four for ESPN’s international feed, and he will do so again this year.
But Vitale wanted to make sure that his career ends without ever calling an NCAA Tournament game for a national audience.