This week’s announcement of the NCAA Tournament broadcast crews for CBS and Warner Bros. Discovery contained no real surprises, but CBS did attempt to add a prolific voice to their coverage this year.
Dick Vitale told Sports Illustrated that he was approached by CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus to work the NCAA Tournament this year, but declined due to his loyalty to ESPN.
Vitale told Sports Illustrated that CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus recently reached out to the analyst and asked him to call one or two NCAA tournament games this season, but, according to Vitale, he passed on the offer out of loyalty to ESPN.
“I was flattered when Sean asked, but I’m 83 now and I want to end my career with just ESPN on my résumé,” says Vitale. “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.”
Vitale also mentioned that attempts by CBS to have him call NCAA Tournament games in the past were blocked by ESPN management, but current ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro green lit the plan this year.
I don’t know how this would have worked, and it doesn’t matter since Vitale declined the offer, but I feel like it there’s no good way it could have worked. If CBS didn’t pair Vitale with Jim Nantz in a later round game, it would have felt like less of an event, and the whole point of bringing Vitale in would be to honor him. I couldn’t imagine Vitale working a first round game next Thursday in the middle of the afternoon, and that being that.
Vitale will still be calling the Final Four on the international feed for ESPN, and I’d argue that’s a bigger honor for him than calling a 2-15 game at 3:10 PM ET on Thursday.