ATLANTA/MACON — College basketball analyst Dick Vitale, considered by many to be college basketball’s biggest ambassador, will speak to Mercer University audiences on Monday. “Dickie V,” who joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season – just after the network’s launch – will speak twice, at lunchtime in Atlanta at The Westin Atlanta Perimeter North, and Monday evening in Macon at the University Center. His visit to Mercer is being presented by the Mercer Athletic Foundation and The Executive Forum.
His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate, sometimes controversial – but never boring – style. Vitale called ESPN’s first-ever NCAA basketball game between Wisconsin and DePaul on Dec. 5, 1979. Since then, he has called almost a thousand games.
While his knowledge, preparation and enthusiasm are unparalleled, his “Vitale-isms” on ESPN broadcasts have unwittingly taken on a life of their own. Just a few of his many household phrases: “Awesome, Baby!,” “Get a T-O, Baby!” (call a time-out), “PTP’er” (prime-time player), “M&M’er” (a mismatch) and “diaper dandy” (freshman star).
Vitale coached at the University of Detroit from 1973-77, compiling a winning percentage of .722. He coached the NBA’s Detroit Pistons during the 1978-79 season prior to joining ESPN. He has his own Web site, has written several books, is a columnist for Basketball Times and has been a featured guest on virtually every sports radio station across the nation. He is one of the nation’s most requested public speakers.
The timing of Vitale’s visit will coincide with the start of practice later that week for both the Mercer men’s and women’s basketball teams and will also kick off the 30th year of The Executive Forum, Georgia’s premier business enrichment program.