Billy Packer, known widely as the voice of NCAA men’s basketball, died this past week at the age of 82 due to kidney failure.
“The Packer Family would like to share some sad news,” Mark, a TV host on ESPN’s ACCNetwork and son to the legendary broadcaster, wrote on Twitter. “Our amazing father, Billy, has passed. We take peace knowing that he’s in heaven with Barb. RIP, Billy.”
The historic NCAA figure joined NBC in 1974 as an analyst or color commentator in every Final Four tournament. By the 80s, Packer joined the CBS crew and was on his way to building a legendary status as a sports commentator. In 1988, he was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame and would go on to win a Sports Emmy for outstanding sports personality.
Never halting his career, he continued to commentate men’s college basketball and by 2008, he entered the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. However, Mark said in an interview that commentating on Final Four games always had a place in Packer’s heart.
“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours. 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.” his son told the Associated Press.
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Mark proceeded to add the sentiments, “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.”
Fellow sports broadcasters mourn the death of Billy Packer
CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus also recognized Packer’s substantial impact on Twitter, noting that he “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 said of the broadcaster. “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,” the CBS chairman continued. “He will be deeply missed by all.”
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