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Think about how great March Madness is. Now imagine the same consistently entertaining tournament with Dick Vitale sprinkled in. Awesome, baby. Right?
It could’ve happened – for the first time in Dickie V’s broadcasting career – but Vitale declined the invite.
Vitale’s spent the entirety of his storied and lengthy broadcast career with ESPN, who does not have the rights to NCAA tournament games. For that reason, Dick Vitale’s been on the sidelines. CBS Sports reached out to Vitale in attempt to change that, with ESPN’s blessing.
Unfortunately for fans, it won’t be happening.
“I was flattered when [CBS Sports’ chairman Sean McManus] asked, but I’m 83 now and I want to end my career with just ESPN on my résumé,” Vitale told Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina. “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 Had Previously Been Interested
The 83-year-old Vitale admitted to Sports Illustrated that within the last couple decades CBS presented similar opportunities to him, but ESPN blocked that from happening. It’s a move Vitale understood at the time and part of the reason why he’s decided against calling this year’s tournament.
“If you went through what I went through and you saw how ESPN treated me, they never cut my salary, always encouraged me,” Vitale said. “I wanted to be loyal to them.”
Though Dickie V won’t be calling the madness via your tv or streaming service, his voice will still be prominently featured throughout the tournament. He’ll continue to call the Final Four for ESPN’s international feed, something he’s previously done.
Play-in games not withstanding, the NCAA Tournament tips off next Thursday, March 16.
Follow along on Twitter: @OhioAF