Billy Packer Dies: Legendary College Basketball Broadcaster Was 82

Billy Packer broadcasting NCAA
Manny Millan / © CBS / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Billy Packer, the college basketball commentator who served as the voice of the NCAA tournament for over 30 years, has died. He was 82.

The news of Packer’s passing was announced by his son, Mark, who tweeted on Thursday (January 26), “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.”

Born on February 25, 1940, in Wellsville, New York, Packer began his broadcasting career in 1972 in Raleigh, North Carolina, when he was asked to fill in as a color analyst for a regionally televised ACC game. He was added as a regular for the next season, further cementing his career in sportscasting.

He moved up to the network level in 1974, working first with NBC until 1981 and then CBS from ’81 to 2008. Packer covered every NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, including the 34 Final Fours, from 1975 to 2008.

In addition to his on-screen broadcasting, Packer also helped create the 1985 college-basketball-themed video game Hoops and wrote several books, including the popular memoir Hoops: Confessions of a College Basketball Analyst.

He won a Sports Emmy Award in 1993 and received the Marvin Francis Award in 2005 for “notable achievement and service in coverage of the ACC.”

Fellow broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter on Thursday night to share his condolences. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale wrote. “My [prayers] go out to Billy’s son @MarkPacker & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

Packer’s other son, Brandt, also shared his tribute online, writing, “Rest in Peace to the most incredible Dad, mentor and best friend. My entire life I always tried to emulate him – how to be a husband, father, to prep for a telecast, you name it, he was the bar for me. Just crushed. But we have peace knowing Billy is in Heaven tonight with Barb.”

Check out more tributes below.