Legendary college basketball announcer Billy Packer, who covered the NCAA Tournament and Final Four for three-plus decades and was one of the most prominent voices in the sport, died Thursday at 82.
His family announced Packer’s passing on Twitter.
“The Packer Family would like to share some sad news. Our amazing father, Billy, has passed. We take peace knowing that he’s in heaven with Barb. RIP, Billy,” Mark Packer tweeted.
Mark Packer told the Associated Press that his father had been in a Charlotte hospital for the last three weeks with several ailments and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.
According to CBS, Packer worked on 34 Final Four broadcast teams, including 27 with CBS. His first Final Four assignment was in 1975 and his last in 2008. His growth in the industry paralleled the massive growth of college basketball.
CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement, “Billy Packer was synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and 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.
“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. He will be deeply missed by all.”
Dick Vitale, another longtime college basketball analyst, tweeted, “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball. … Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP .”
Among the play-by-play announcers Packer worked with were some of the biggest names in the business, including Curt Gowdy, Dick Enberg, Brent Musburger and Jim Nantz.
Packer was no stranger to college basketball before his announcing days, either. He played three seasons at Wake Forest, averaging 14.8 points over his career and taking home first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 1961 and second team in 1960. He was also a two-time first-team All-ACC tournament selection and named to the 1962 NCAA Tournament All-Region team.
The Demon Deacons went 22-9 in the 1961-62 season, losing to Ohio State in the Final Four before beating UCLA in the third-place game.
Packer won the Emmy for Outstanding Sports Event Analyst in 1993.
–Field Level Media