Longtime college basketball analyst and iconic Final Four broadcaster Billy Packer died on Thursday, his sons announced on Twitter.
He was 82.
Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father died due to kidney failure after dealing with various health issues for several weeks in North Carolina.
Packer spent more than three decades calling college basketball, and worked on 34 Final Four broadcast teams throughout his career at both NBC and CBS. He worked as CBS analyst from 1981-2008 and quickly became one of the biggest voices in the sport each March, calling games alongside other greats like Jim Nantz, Brent Musburger, Dick Enbert, Curt Gowdy and others. His first Final Four came in 1975, when UCLA and coach John Wooden won the title. His last was Kansas’ win over Memphis in 2008.
He stepped away from the game after that season. Packer worked in short stints in the sports world and elsewhere, but largely stayed private from there on out — something he told The Athletic in 2019 was by design. He said then that the final game he called was the last college basketball game he watched in person, and that he realized he never was really a sports fan.
Packer played collegiately himself for Wake Forest, and picked up a pair of All-ACC honors and helped lead the Demon Deacons to a Final Four in 1962 with coach Horace “Bones” McKinney.
Jim’s two sons, Mark and Brandt, both work in sports broadcasting. Mark is an analyst and host with the ACC Network, and Brandt is a producer with the Golf Channel.
“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark said, via The Associated Press. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”