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Over time, specific broadcasters become synonymous with certain moments or events. John Madden, for example, is remembered for his “booms” and “pows” as he is for his coaching career. Similarly, no Masters or March Madness moment feels complete without Jim Nantz and his signature “Hello, friends.”

This year, however, Nantz might not get the chance to welcome us to college basketball’s biggest moments. While coronavirus concerns are altering the course of sporting events around the world, the announcer hopes that everyone can share in the joys of March Madness.

Jim Nantz’s broadcasting career

During high school, Jim Nantz played on the basketball and golf teams. When he headed to the University of Houston, he continued to ply his trade on the links while majoring in broadcast journalism.

Nantz worked for CBS Radio during his time in college and, after graduation, landed a job with a local TV station as an anchor and sportscaster. After a couple of years in Houston, however, he moved north to Salt Lake City, where he served as a weekend sports anchor; it was at that time that he started calling college football and NBA games. He then joined up with CBS in 1985, starting out as an in-studio host for college football and basketball. Over the years, his responsibilities would increase to include PGA Tour and NFL coverage.

Over the years, Jim Nantz has become CBS’ top play-by-play announcer, calling the network’s NFL, golf, and NCAA Basketball action. His range isn’t limited, though; he’s covered everything from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the Olympics as required.

Jim Nantz hopes March Madness can go ahead as planned

Every spring, March Madness gives college basketball fans roughly four weeks of nonstop action. While this year’s tournament could be in jeopardy due to the coronavirus, Jim Nantz hopes that the show can still go on.

“Like everyone else, we have no idea where this is going over the next three or four weeks and we’ll adapt to whatever the NCAA decides to do with the tournament,” Nantz recently said on a conference call.  While public safety is obviously the top priority, the veteran play-by-play man thinks the tournament would help give everyone a boost.

“This comes at a time where the country really needs more than ever a chance to have something that brings some joy/fun into their lives,” he continued, “more of an escapism, if you will.” 

March Madness will definitely be different this year

While it’s impossible to predict the future, March Madness will definately be different this year. Although the overall event might not be canceled yet—some schools or conferences have decided to forgo their own games—the NCAA has already announced that the tournament games will take place in empty arenas.

“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.

While Jim Nantz believes that it would be challenging to call a game in an empty arena, one overarching theme remains clear. As much as we all love March Madness, safety has to be the top priority.