Announcer Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, who was called “the voice of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament” for decades, died Thursday, his son announced in a tweet. He was 82.
He broadcast NCAA games for CBS starting in the early 1980s.
“The Packer Family would like to share some sad news,” Mark Packer wrote. “Our amazing father, Billy, has passed. We take peace knowing that he’s in heaven with Barb. RIP, Billy.”
Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks, had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.
Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said 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,” McManus said in a statement. “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.”
In 1988, Packer was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame, whose website now reads, “Packer’s love for the game blossomed at Wake Forest University where he led the Deacons to two Atlantic Coast Conference titles and into the Final Four of the 1962 NCAA tournament. He scored a career 1,316 points.”
Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as an analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.
Packer was also inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and the Wake Forest University Hall of Fame and he received the Curt Gowdy Award from the National Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1993, he earned the Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Personality/Analyst.