ESPN has announced that 77 year old Dick Vitale has signed a new contract extension that will take him through the 2018-19 season. It adds one more year to his contact. It will take Vitale to his 40th season on the networks of ESPN. Vitale joined the Worldwide Leader in its very first year in 1979-80.
According to the official announcement, Vitale will be assigned to many of the network’s marquee games, but most likely not the Duke-North Carolina games. He’ll also call the NCAA Men’s Final Four for ESPN International.
Of course we have a Vitale quote from the official announcement:
“ESPN has been a vital part of my life. Completing the next three years of my contract will mean 40 years of hoops heaven. I have loved every moment, and it has been a thrill to be courtside and call some of the greatest games in the country, sitting next to some of the most outstanding play-by-play announcers you could ever want to work with. I can’t thank them, the producers and all of the people behind the scenes enough for giving me a life that’s exceeded any dream I’ve ever had. My goal is to be the first announcer ever to call a game and say “you’re awesome baby” at 100.”
ESPN Executive Vice President of Production and Programming John Wildhack sang the praises of Vitale:
“Dick’s energy and love for basketball and life continue to be at the heart of his incredibly well-earned success. Fans truly appreciate Dick’s engaging and entertaining style, and his continued work to fight cancer on behalf of The V Foundation is remarkable.”
Vitale’s very first game with ESPN was Wisconsin at DePaul on December 5, 1979 and has been with the Bristol, CT-based network ever since. As one of the few who is still on the air since ESPN flipped the switch in 1979, his contribution to the network’s history whether it be on the NCAA Tournament in the 1980’s, calling major games with various partners like Brent Musburger, Mike Patrick, Dan Shulman, Brad Nessler, Jim Thacker, Keith Jackson, Mike Tirico and John Saunders really can’t be measured.
And when his contract expires, he’ll have been on the network for 40 years which will be amazing in itself.