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May 22, 2017
Basketball Hall of Famer began with network in first year
Deal takes Vitale into his 41st season with ESPN
Longtime ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale – one of the most influential and vibrant personalities in the history of sports television – has signed a contract extension with ESPN through the 2019-20 season.
Vitale will be the main analyst on many of the network’s top games, including regular-season action primarily on ESPN and ESPN2 and the network’s Champ Week coverage. The Basketball Hall of Famer contributes to numerous ESPN platforms throughout the year, including ESPN.com, ESPN Radio and more.
The agreement adds an additional year to his previous extension, announced last June, and extends Vitale into his 41st season with the network. He began with ESPN in its first year (1979-80).
“ESPN has been my second family. Everyone knows my love for my wife, kids and grandkids, but ESPN has also been a vital part of my life for 38 plus years,” said Vitale. “I’ve met so many beautiful people there who have meant so much to me. I’m beyond thrilled about this new contract – it’s pure joy and jubilation for me and my family.”
“Dick Vitale is an ESPN PTPer – our signature college basketball voice for 38 years,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “He has grown the sport and the place of ESPN in the sport. He is, literally, a Basketball Hall of Famer who has augmented a remarkable on-air career with a tireless passion for helping others, highlighted by his remarkable work on behalf of The V Foundation.”
Vitale joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season — just after the network’s September 1979 launch — following a successful coaching career. He called ESPN’s first-ever major NCAA basketball game – Wisconsin at DePaul on Dec. 5, 1979 (a 90-77 DePaul win). Since then, he’s called more than a thousand games and his “Vitale-isms” have become part of the sports lexicon, including “Awesome, Baby!,” “Get a TO, Baby!” and “PTP’er.”
Over the years, Vitale has been widely recognized for his work and his positive impact on others. Among the recent honors are: the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame; the American Cancer Society’s Man of the Year Award for his dedication to cancer awareness; the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Court of Honor Award; Seton Hall University with the Humanitarian Award; the AutoZone Liberty Bowl with the Distinguished Citizen Award; the New Jersey Hall of Fame and the John Wooden Cup Citizenship National Man of the Year Award. He is a proud member of the prestigious Washington Speaker’s Bureau for the past three decades, where he is recognized as one of the top motivational speakers in the world of sports.
Beyond the numerous awards he’s received for his work, including the sport’s highest honor in 2008 (Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in the contributor category), Vitale has been celebrated for his many charitable contributions. He’s been an outspoken and passionate fundraiser and board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research and has also worked closely with the Boys & Girls Club and Make-A-Wish, among other organizations. Vitale, who has authored 12 books, has been selected for 12 halls of fame.
Vitale’s roots are in teaching the game he’s loved since childhood. Following college, he got a job teaching at Mark Twain Elementary School (Garfield, N.J.) and coaching junior high school football and basketball. He began coaching for eight years at the high school level in 1963, and in 1970, moved on to his first of seven years of college jobs with Rutgers and later University of Detroit. In May 1978, he was named head coach of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, the job he held prior to joining ESPN.