The man most affectionately known for his friendly hello bid a warm and thoughtful goodbye. Legendary sportscaster and NCAA Tournament mainstay, Jim Nantz, called his final game as the voice of March Madness on Monday, ending a 37-year run across 355 broadcasts and 32 Final Fours. Serving as a staple of the NCAA Tournament with CBS Sports, Nantz made his last call as college basketball's congenial narrator from Houston as UConn defeated San Diego State in the national championship.
"To you, to everybody in the college game, to the CBS family, my family, all the viewers: Thank you for being my friend," said Nantz.
Nantz, 63, is handing the reins as voice of the Final Four over to Ian Eagle, but he is not stepping away from his post entirely. He will continue to serve as the lead play-by-play voice of the NFL for CBS, as well as the voice chronicling The Masters and other major golf events for the network.
The end of Nantz's career as the lead voice for CBS' college basketball coverage was a fitting full circle moment in Houston -- the city where he attended college, played golf and studied broadcasting -- as he narrated one last time the NCAA Tournament and the 2022-23 season's last moments. UConn put on a dazzling performance to send him off into the sunset, overcoming an early deficit to dominate in a 17-point victory, its sixth win of 13 or more points during what will go down as one of the most emphatic runs in March Madness history.
CBS Radio Network was Nantz's first official launchpad as a young professional in the broadcasting business as he transmitted interviews to the airwaves. But it wasn't until 1985 – several years after cutting his teeth in Houston, Texas, as an anchor and sportscaster for KHOU – that he joined CBS Sports.
Once Nantz came aboard CBS Sports in 1985 he worked as a studio host covering basketball, football and golf, and his cheery intro to broadcasts -- "Hello, friends!" -- made viewers and listeners feel connected to the environment from which he was transmitting.
Even as Nantz's final sendoff as the voice of college basketball on CBS hovered as a significant storyline in Monday night's season finale, Nantz humbly deflected attention back to the sport he has so dutifully covered and loved through the decades. Next to long-time partner Bill Raftery and on the broadcast team alongside Tracy Wolfson and Grant Hill, he thanked everyone who was along for the ride with him while imparting wisdom.
"One thing I've learned through all of this: Everybody has a dream, everybody has a story to tell," said Nantz. "Just try to find that story. Be kind."
"You've told it better than most," quipped Raftery. "Let me tell ya."