Brent Musburger Reveals The Unusual Origin Of The Term ‘March Madness’

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Legendary sports broadcaster Brent Musburger is often credited with coming up with the term March Madness to describe the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament.

In fact, during an interview on The Rich Eisen Show last week, Eisen’s wife and guest host Suzy Shuster asked Brent Musburger how he came up with the term March Madness.

“I had no idea that March Madness came from you. That the idea of March Madness came out of your mouth in 1982. Can you tell us that story, please?” Shuster said to Brent.

After explaining how CBS ended up getting the tournament, Brent Musburger revealed, “We did all the games on a regional basis. In other words, the local television stations carry the game that was relevant to their particular area.

“I was the host I was not the play-by-play man when CBS got, Gary Bender was the original play-by-play man for CBS, but I had a board, physically, where I actually put names of the teams up and everything.

“And it was a late one Thursday evening after the opening games and I said we had a couple of big upsets late that night out on the west coast and I said, “folks this is madness, this is March Madness.”

“Now, where it came from,” Brent Musburger continued. “I didn’t just pull it out of thin air. But when I was a newspaper man and a broadcaster back in Chicago, back when I started, there was a car dealer who was always close to the state high school basketball tournament in the state of Illinois.

“It was a big big deal. In fact, the state high school basketball tournament at that time in Indiana and Illinois was actually bigger than the college tournament and he referred to it in an ad that ran in our paper, the Chicago American, as March Madness. And he would print the games, but then of course underneath he would have his car sales for March. That was all part of March Madness. And that stuck with me when I went to the network.”

After using the term on the air, Brent Musburger explained that the NCAA wisely decided that they wanted to copyright the term March Madness.

“The attorneys came to me and asked me,” Musburger shared. “I said, ‘listen, that definitely, definitely was started by the state of Illinois and their downstate high school basketball tournament. It had nothing to do with college, I said. And if I’m called to testify in any kind of court, I will tell you and I will tell the judge, and I will tell whoever else is there that this belongs to the state of Illinois, not the NCAA.’

“Well, a settlement was made, the NCAA didn’t argue with what I told them, because it was the truth, and they paid the state of Illinois. I have no idea what the sum was. And now the NCAA does own, they have the copyright to March Madness, but that’s how it began.”