Billy Packer, ‘The Voice’ Of March Madness, Dead At Age 82

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning school basketball broadcaster who lined 34 Last Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, instructed The Related Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the previous three weeks and had a number of medical points, and in the end succumbed to kidney failure.

CBS’s Billy Packer, left, and Jim Nantz share fun throughout a recreation in 2006.

Packer’s broadcasting profession coincided with the expansion of faculty basketball. He labored as analyst or shade commentator on each Last 4 from 1975 to 2008. He obtained a Sports activities Emmy for Excellent Sports activities Character, Studio and Sports activities Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer stated. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer performed three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Last 4 in 1962, but it surely was his work as an analyst that introduced him essentially the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and referred to as his first Last 4 in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky within the title recreation that yr in what was John Picket’s remaining recreation as coach.

Packer was additionally a part of the published in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State workforce beat Larry Hen’s Indiana State squad within the title recreation. That is still the highest-rated recreation in basketball historical past with a 24.1 Nielsen ranking, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS within the fall of 1981, when the community acquired the rights to the NCAA Match. He remained the community’s foremost analyst till the 2008 Last 4.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was concerned in controversy when he used the time period “robust monkey″ to explain then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson throughout a recreation. Packer later stated he “was not apologizing for what I stated, as a result of what I stated has no implications in my thoughts in any respect to do with Allen Iverson’s race.″

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus stated. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the Nationwide Collegiate Basketball Corridor of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as phrase of Packer’s demise unfold. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”