Longtime college basketball commentator Billy Packer, the voice of the NCAA Tournament for more than 30 years, died Thursday night. He was 82.

Packer’s two sons, Mark and Brandt, announced the news Thursday night via Twitter.

Mark Packer told The Associated Press that his father had been in a Charlotte hospital for the past three weeks with a series of medical complications that eventually led to kidney failure.

Packer was a college basketball analyst for 34 straight Final Fours, first on NBC and then CBS, while also working as an analyst for ACC games on Raycom. In 1993, he received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Commentator.

Packer was the son of longtime basketball coach Anthony Packer, who spent 16 seasons as the head coach at Lehigh. After earning all-state honors as a sophomore at Pennsylvania, Packer attended Wake Forest, where he was named All-ACC in 1961 and 1962. He led the Devils to three ACC regular-season titles and their first Final Four appearance in 2011. In the year In 1962, when the Packers were named to the All-Region team.

In the year In 1972, he briefly entered the coaching profession before becoming an announcer. Packer told The Athletic in 2019 that he “had no goal of becoming a broadcaster.”

But within two years, the Packers were on the call for the NCAA tournament and the Final Four, and he didn’t give up his seat until he left in 2008.

“One day in the middle of my career, I decided I wasn’t going to do this. One of the things I told myself was that I really enjoy researching and studying the game and having the opportunity to interact with people I respect” who really know the game and its history. “And if I don’t enjoy doing that, I want to stop,” he told The Athletic. “Well, there’s a point where you say I’ve enjoyed my run and now it’s time to get back and do other things that I enjoy. The last game I saw in person was the last game I broadcast. The (2008) national championship game between Memphis and Kansas.”

Packers have some of the most famous calls in Final Four history, most notably when Myles Simmons said “Simon says … championship” after leading Arizona to the 1997 national championship.

Magic Johnson was part of the broadcast along with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire in 1979 when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team defeated Larry Bird’s Indiana State team in the title game. That was the highest-rated game in basketball history, with a 21.1 Nielsen rating and an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

“He was very excited to make the final four,” Mark Packer told the AP. Timed it right. Everything in life is about time. His ability to participate in something that, in fact, he was going to see anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball started with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and I think that’s what caused college basketball fans to go crazy with March Madness.”

“For more than three decades, Packer has been synonymous with college basketball and has set the standard for excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament,” said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus.

“He had a huge impact on the growth and popularity of the sport,” McManus said in a statement. “Indeed, Billy fashioned the game in his own unique style, attitude and opinion, but he always kept his focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at heart Billy was a family man. Through CBS Sports, college basketball, and most of all, as a loving husband, The legacy of father and grandfather will be greatly missed by all.

ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale was among those paying tribute to Packer on Twitter, writing, “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer, the love of college basketball.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschla He tweeted.Because of you (we fell in love with college basketball) your voice will be in my head forever.

When Packer left as CBS’s lead analyst and was replaced by Clark Kellogg in 2008, the most important people in college sports expressed their admiration for Packer and his impact on the game.

“His understanding of men’s college basketball, his analysis of the game and his passion for the place in higher education ensured a legacy that anyone would envy,” said the late NCAA President Miles Brandt. “He is a friend of intercollegiate athletics, and I want to thank him for his significant contributions to the NCAA’s Final Four run, as well as his many other contributions over the years.”

“The only word that describes Billy is huge,” former Big East commissioner Mike Trangheit said in 2008. His love for the game and the way he presented it, I think, is unmatched. This creates an incredible void. If we love the game of college basketball, we will surely miss it.

Outside of his broadcasting career, Packer was involved in several business and real estate deals.

“I had no interest in competing in sports since I played my last basketball game in college,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in 1999. “But I love the challenge of business deals.” It is something very close to me. Sports: A game that adults can play.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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