Long-time college basketball expert Billy Packer has died, his family announced it on Thursday evening. Packer was 82 and spent the span of 34 years working on Final Four broadcast teams, 27 of them at CBS Sports as its Emmy award-winning college basketball analyst prior his final Final Four in 2008.
Packer’s son Mark Packer’s son Mark informed The Associated Press his father was hospitalized at Charlotte, North Carolina, over the last three weeks due to various medical problems, and then succumbed to kidney failure.
In his time as a leading voice within the game, Packer helped popularize three-man TV broadcast teams, which included Dick Enberg and Al McGuire and was not afraid to voice his opinions. One of his most memorable calls was the one that read “Simon declares championship” when Arizona won the title in 1997 with the 30-point performance of Miles Simon.
Packer was a star athlete at Wake Forest from 1958 to 1962, but was more well-known by the world of sports for his opinions-based analysis on the sidelines of most important college basketball games and also for his many years of calling ACC games as well as his role as an analyst at CBS Sports, where he was an analyst between 1981 and 2008.
Packer became a dad to three children Mark, Liz and Brandt and was preceded in death by his partner, Barb.
“Billy Packer was associated with college basketball for over three decades and established the bar for high-quality as the voice for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus stated in an announcement. “He made a huge impact on the development and growth of the sport. In typical Billy manner, he scrutinized the game from his own distinctive style, viewpoint and opinion and he always kept his focus of the action. Although he was passionate about basketball, in his core Billy was a father figure. He leaves a significant part in his mark at CBS Sports, across college basketball, and most importantly, as a cherished husband, father and grandpa. He will be missed deeply by everyone.”
Packer was equally influential as a player. He averaged 14.1 points in his 5-foot-9 senior guard in the 1962 Wake Forest team that reached the Final Four under coach Bones McKinney. After an uninvolved assistant coaching stint in his team, the Demon Deacons, Packer embarked on a broadcasting career.
“Rest in peace to the most amazing dad, mentor, and most beloved friend” Brandt Packer wrote on Twitter. “My whole life, I’ve attempted to imitate his example of how to be a father, husband or prepare for a broadcast or any other event and he set the bar for me. He was crushed. We are at peace in knowing that Billy will be in Heaven tonight, along with Barb.”