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Billy Packer, longtime NCAA basketball announcer, dies at 82

<i>Michael Conroy/AP</i><br/>Billy Packer
Michael Conroy/AP
Billy Packer

By Jay Croft, CNN

Announcer Billy Packer, who was called “the voice of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament” for decades, died Thursday, his son announced in a tweet. He was 82.

He broadcast NCAA games for CBS starting in the early 1980s.

“The Packer Family would like to share some sad news,” Mark Packer wrote. “Our amazing father, Billy, has passed. We take peace knowing that he’s in heaven with Barb. RIP, Billy.”

The cause was kidney failure, Mark Packer told the Associated Press. He said his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the past three weeks with several medical issues.

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

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport,” McManus said in a statement. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. 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.”

In 1988, Packer was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame, whose website now reads, “Packer’s love for the game blossomed at Wake Forest University where he led the Deacons to two Atlantic Coast Conference titles and into the Final Four of the 1962 NCAA tournament. He scored a career 1,316 points.”

The Hall said Packer’s broadcasting career started in 1970 on high school football games. NBC hired him for the NCAA regional playoffs in 1975 and he began broadcasting NCAA games for CBS in the early 1980s.

Packer was also inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Wake Forest University Hall of Fame and he received the Curt Gowdy Award from the National Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1993, he earned the Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Sport Personality/Analyst.

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CNN’s Jillian Martin contributed to this report.

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