Longtime College Basketball Announcer Billy Packer Dead at 82

Billy Packer's son announced his death in a tweet Thursday, calling him an "amazing father"

CBS announcers Billy Packer, left, and Jim Nantz laugh during a break in the championship game in the Big Ten basketball tournament in Indianapolis, . Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday night, Jan. 26, 2023. He was 82. Packer's son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte, N.C., for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure Obit Packer Basketball, Indianapolis, United States - 12 Mar 2006
Photo: MICHAEL CONROY/AP/Shutterstock

Billy Packer, a longtime NCAA men's basketball announcer, has died. He was 82.

The broadcaster, who was called "the voice of the NCAA men's basketball tournament," spent decades broadcasting NCAA games for CBS and got his start at the network in the early 1980s.

His son, Mark, announced his death on Twitter Thursday. "The Packer Family would like to share some sad news," Mark, a TV host on ESPN's ACCNetwork, tweeted. "Our amazing father, Billy, has passed. We take peace knowing that he's in heaven with Barb. RIP, Billy. 🙏🏻."

Mark also told the Associated Press that his father died of kidney failure after being hospitalized in Charlotte for three weeks with other medical issues.

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While Billy joined CBS in the '80s, he also worked as an analyst or color commentator in every Final Four tournament since 1975 after joining NBC in 1974, the AP reported.

In 1988, he was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame, and five years later he earned a Sports Emmy for outstanding sports personality, studio and sports analyst.

But Billy's love for basketball came during his early years. He played three seasons at Wake Forest, where he helped secure his team a spot in the Final Four in 1962, scoring a career 1,316 points.

"He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours," Mark told the AP. "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. And 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."

CBS analyst Billy Packer (L) with play by play announcer Jim Nantz before UCLA vs Memphis game at Alamodome. San Antonio, TX
John Biever/Sports Illustrated via Getty

Throughout his career, which led him to an induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, Billy was involved with several notable games.

Among them was the 1979 title game, when Johnson's Michigan State beat out Bird's Indiana State. As the AP reported, the game is the highest-rated basketball game — boasting an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

ESPN's Dick Vitale wrote on Twitter after Billy's death that the announcer "had such a passion for college basketball."

"My [prayers] go out to Billy's son Mark & the entire Packer family," he wrote. "Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP."

College basketball announcer Billy Packer on air before a college basketball game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Virginia Cavaliers at Cole Field House on January 17, 1989 in College Park, Maryland.
Mitchell Layton/Getty

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus also shared a statement on Twitter that Billy "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 added. "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."

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