Why isn't Dick Vitale calling March Madness games?

Dick Vitale is one of the voices most synonymous with college basketball. How come he isn't calling any March Madness games this year?

Champions Classic - Kentucky v Michigan State
Champions Classic - Kentucky v Michigan State / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

If you've watched any regular season college basketball over the years, you've likely heard a game called by Dick Vitale at least once in your life. Although he had a brief tenure as a college coach with the University of Detroit in the mid-1970s, Vitale became nationally known as ESPN's top analyst for college hoops.

Vitale's catchphrases and enthusiasm for the sport have made him a beloved figure in the college basketball community. While there is no doubt that Vitale is a signature element of the college basketball world, it may surprise some people to realize he has never called a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Why doesn't Dick Vitale call any NCAA Tournament games?

The reason Vitale isn't a feature of March Madness is due to his contract with ESPN, which doesn't have the rights to the NCAA Tournament. SI's Jimmy Traina notes that Vitale was offered the opportunity to call a game or two for CBS last year but declined out of loyalty to ESPN, enabling the venerable broadcaster to have only ESPN on his resume.

There was a time when CBS tried to pursue Vitale for its March Madness coverage in the past but then-ESPN president John Skipper declined since Vitale was under contract with the network. Current ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro gave Vitale his blessing to call games when CBS called last year but Vitale, who has been through multiple health scares in recent years, said no as a sign of respect for how much the network has meant to him.

While American fans don't get to hear Vitale call March Madness, he has had an opportunity to broadcast games for global audiences since ESPN has the international broadcast rights to the NCAA Tournament. While it is a shame that Vitale never got to call a March Madness game for an American audience, he did at least have an opportunity presented to him to do it before he eventually retires.

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