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Dick Vitale shares why he turned down big offer from CBS

Dick Vitale speaking into a microphone

Nov 23, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Basketball sportscaster Dick Vitale talks to the media before the start of a game between the UCLA Bruins and the Gonzaga Bulldogs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Dick Vitale is a legendary college basketball sportscaster but has never before called an NCAA Tournament game for a U.S. audience. He’s spent the past 40 years working for ESPN, and the TV rights belong to CBS and Turner Broadcasting.

Despite a recent attempt to lure Vitale, that trend will continue here in 2023 and beyond.

Vitale told Sports Illustrated this week that CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus presented him with the opportunity to call one or two tournament games this year. Vitale declined the offer. Vitale cited his loyalty to ESPN as the reason for the rebuff.

“I was flattered when Sean asked, but I’m 83 now and I want to end my career with just ESPN on my résumé,” Vitale said. “What they did for me this last year has been amazing. They’ve treated me like royalty. It’s been 44 years just with them, and I just want to have ESPN on my résumé.”

While he is currently cancer-free, Vitale has battled lymphoma and melanoma in recent years. He also had vocal cord surgery in 2022 and has been limited to calling just one game per week for ESPN based on doctors’ orders.

Although he’s been limited for health reasons, ESPN has continued to offer its full support.

“If you went through what I went through and you saw how ESPN treated me, they never cut my salary, always encouraged me. I wanted to be loyal to them,” Vitale said.

Vitale did admit that CBS had previously offered him the opportunity to call NCAA Tournament games but that was “10 or 20 years ago” and ESPN blocked him at the time.


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