Legendary announcer Dick Vitale won’t be on the call for March Madness this season. Instead, he’s made the surprising decision to stay home for the postseason.
This decision has nothing to do with his recent health scares or age. Rather, it comes down to loyalty.
Vitale has been with ESPN for as long as anyone can remember. It’s been over four decades, in fact.
While that gig with the World Wide Leader in Sports gives him the chance to call big time games throughout the season, it’s CBS that owns the rights to NCAA Tournament broadcasts.
Previously, Dickie V says that CBS reached out, but management at ESPN blocked him from working with the company. That restriction has since been lifted, but the network still hasn’t been able to sway him.
CBS again tried to get him on a call in 2023. He declined.
Dick Vitale sat down with Sports Illustrated in a recent interview, going in depth about the choice to pass up the NCAA Tournament opportunity.
“I was flattered when Sean [McManus] asked, but I’m 83 now and I want to end my career with just ESPN on my résumé. 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.
“If you went through what I went through and you saw how ESPN treated me, they never cut my salary, always encouraged me. I wanted to be loyal to them.”
He posted a message on Twitter Thursday reiterating his loyalty to the employer.
I’ve been so blessed to have been with @espn for 44 yrs .& being on a TEAM with many I have gr8 admiration for starting with Prez Jimmy Pitaro. I was honored when Sean McManus @CBSSports called as he was so classy when I told him at 83 I LOVE ESPN! https://t.co/CM4SDvGnRU
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) March 9, 2023
Fans were quick to comment on the decision to remain tied to ESPN, and ESPN alone.
One person wrote, “Admire the loyalty Coach! You definitely are the face of College Basketball.” Another said, “Dickie V – preeminent network man. Love the loyalty.”
Dick Vitale has had the opportunity to call Final Four games for ESPN’s international feed in the past, and he’ll do so again in 2023, but it appears his career will end without ever calling an NCAA Tournament game for a national audience.