Billy Packer, a staple of college basketball commentary for more than three decades, passed away Thursday at the age of 82.
The news was announced by Billy's sons Mark and Brandt. Mark told the Associated Press that Billy suffered kidney failure after an extended stay in a Charlotte hospital.
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. 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/uFRixmgCcd— Mark Packer (@MarkPacker) January 27, 2023
Billy Packer played college basketball at Wake Forest from 1958-62, winning two ACC titles and reaching the Final Four in 1962. He would reach 34 consecutive Final Fours as a color commentator and analyst between stints at NBC and CBS until his retirement in 2008. He also won a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.
Packer became known for his passion and voice on the sport as it ballooned into the national spotlight in the late 1970s. He was on the call for the 1979 national championship game between Magic Johnson's Michigan State and Larry Bird's Indiana State.
"He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours," Mark Packer told the AP. "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 Johnson and Bird, and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.''
After watching the sport's most iconic programs, teams and players rise to household names, Packer retired from the booth in 2008. His final call was the overtime thriller of a title game between Kansas and Memphis. He was followed by Clark Kellogg.
Upon his passing, many college basketball personalities and legends expressed their appreciation for Packer's work, legacy and personality, including Dick Vitale and Fran Fraschilla.
So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball. My 🙏🙏🙏 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 .— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) January 27, 2023
"As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man," said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports. "He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.''