For the first time in his storied career, Dick Vitale will not call North Carolina-Duke. Word leaked Monday afternoon after ESPN benched Vitale in favor of Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas. The Charlotte News and Observer caught up with Vitale to get his side of the story.
“I told them that I cannot lie when a writer asks me what’s my feeling not doing the game,” he said. “I said I have to be honest. And my honest reply to you is, obviously, I’m a loyal, team player. I will go where my bosses tell me to go.
“But in my heart I will absolutely miss being a part of North Carolina-Duke.”
“It’s been a special part of my basketball and my announcing career,” Vitale said. “And I will never forget the magical moments that I’ve had, being able to be part of such an incredible of rivalry.”
Even if you dislike Vitale and dislike the way he calls games, you have to appreciate his passion for college basketball. For three and a half decades, the man has been the game’s greatest ambassador. He’s been its most powerful voice, at times, and he’s now been stripped of the rivalry he loves most.
This isn’t a nail in the coffin for the 75-year-old Vitale, he’s under contract with ESPN through the 2016-17 season. For now, it certainly looks like the end of an era.