March Madness is nearly here. As college basketball’s premier event gets set to kick-off, it’s time to reflect on the sport’s biggest names. One of these is ESPN color commentator Dick Vitale. While he may not call NCAA Tournament games, Vitale enlivens the entire college basketball season with his infectious personality and excitement for the sport.
But what did Vitale do before becoming an announcer? What has his career been like? And what is his net worth?
Dick Vitale’s pre-broadcasting career
While most basketball fans know Dickie V for his work on ESPN calling college basketball games, he wasn’t always a broadcaster. Vitale first got involved with the game as a coach. Born in Passaic, New Jersey, he found his way to Rutgers for an assistant coaching gig in the early ’70s.
Following his stint with the Scarlet Knights, Vitale served as head coach for the University of Detroit — now known as Detroit Mercy — for four seasons. Vitale coached 108 games, finishing with a record of 78-30. In his final season there, the Titans qualified for the NCAA Tournament. After leaving Detroit, Vitale didn’t go far.
He ended up with a different Motor City basketball club: the Pistons. In his only full season with the Pistons, Vitale led the team to a 30-52 record. He made it through 12 games of the 1979-80 season, going only 4-8 before parting ways with the team. Following his stint as a coach, Vitale became an ESPN broadcaster — and he found his true calling.
Vitale’s broadcasting career
dIn the past 40 years, Vitale has become one of the biggest names in college basketball. He joined ESPN for the 1979-80 season, not long after the network itself launched. Vitale announced the channel’s first-ever major game, a Wisconsin/DePaul matchup. Since then, he’s called some of the sport’s biggest games and fiercest rivalries.
When asked about his career, Vitale expresses both humility and gratitude for his time as the sport’s most recognizable voice: “I’m living the American dream … I learned from my mom and dad, who didn’t have a formal education, but had doctorates of love. They told me that if you gave 110% all the time, a lot of beautiful things will happen.”
Fans know Vitale for his exuberance and passion for the game. According to ESPN’s press materials, he’s even coined many catchphrases, including:
- Awesome, Baby!
- Get a TO, Baby! (call a timeout)
- PTP’er (prime-time player)
- M & M’er (a mismatch)
- Rolls Roycer (a flat out superstar)
- Diaper dandy (freshman star)
- All-Windex Performer (ferocious rebounder)
- Maalox time (the final minutes of a close game)
Vitale is grateful for his career and love of basketball. “I may not always be right, but no one can ever accuse me of not having a genuine love and passion for whatever I do,” he explains.
What is Vitale’s net worth?
According to CelebrityNetWorth, Vitale’s net worth is estimated at $16 million. His estimated salary from ESPN is $3 million per year. During his four decades at the top of the college basketball broadcasting world, Vitale has amassed quite a fortune.
The 80-year-old hasn’t just called games; he’s also written nine books about college basketball. While he has made quite a bit of money, he’s unselfish with it. Vitale supports the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the charitable organization founded and inspired by Vitale’s friend, the late former North Carolina State head coach Jim Valvano.