ESPN College Basketball on ABC

ESPN College Basketball on ABC

College Basketball on ABC
Genre Sports
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 23
Running time 120 minutes+
Original channel ABC
Picture format 720p (HDTV)
Original run January 18, 1987 – March 16, 2014

ESPN College Basketball on ABC was a television program on ABC that broadcast NCAA Division I men's basketball games. In 1987, ABC began televising college basketball games on a regular basis. As CBS and NBC were also broadcasting college games at the time, this put the sport on all three major over-the-air television networks. ABC's debut broadcast was on January 18, 1987 (LSU at Kentucky) and its final regular season broadcast was on March 7, 2009 (Oklahoma State at Oklahoma).


  • Coverage overview 1
    • 1962, 1973, 1978 1.1
    • 1987–2009 1.2
    • 2010–2014 1.3
  • Schedules 2
    • 2009 schedule 2.1
    • 2008 schedule 2.2
    • 2007 schedule 2.3
    • 2006 schedule 2.4
  • Commentators 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Coverage overview

1962, 1973, 1978

In 1962, ABC showed the NCAA Championship Game on a one-day delayed basis, as part of Wide World of Sports. On December 15, 1973, ABC aired what appeared to be the first[1] ever major network telecast of a regular season game (UCLA vs. NC State at St. Louis). ABC (which had recently lost the NBA rights to CBS) televised this game using their former NBA announcer crew, Keith Jackson and Bill Russell.

In the 1977–78 season, C.D. Chesley (who controlled the ACC rights at the time) wanted NBC to televise some ACC games as part of its national package as it had the previous few years. However, NBC wanted to feature intersectional games. This action greatly upset Chesley, who wound up selling the rights to the ACC Tournament final to ABC. ABC would televise the 1978 ACC Tournament final as part of Wide World of Sports. The game, called by Jim Lampley and Bill Russell, marked the first time Duke was ever on national television.


When ABC's coverage[2][3] began in 1987,[4] they primarily covered[5][6] the Big Ten, Big 8 and Pac-10. By 1991 (around the time in which NBC was phasing out their own college basketball coverage), ABC ramped up their own coverage in an effort to fill the void.[7] Thus, they also started to cover the ACC and SEC. Otherwise, it was essentially, a considerable hodge-podge with an ACC game one week, or a Pac-10 or Big 10 game the next. The games broadcast were a hodge-podge of conference match-ups even after the ESPN on ABC brand change, with SEC and Big East match-ups occasionally being shown alongside frequent ACC, Big 12 and Pac-10 match-ups.

ABC's early regular season broadcasts were for the most part, technically Raycom[8][9] (particularly, around 1990–1991) or sister network (under the Walt Disney Company umbrella), ESPN. This in return, was a way to avoid union contracts in which 100% of network shows had to be done by network union cameramen,[10] etc. Raycom in the early 1990s paid ABC $1.8 million for six weeks of network airtime of 26 regional games. The format allowed Raycom to control the games and sell the advertising.[11]

In the 1987–88 season, ABC did not air games during the last three weekends of February because they were covering the Winter Olympics. Coverage by ABC steadily increased during the early 1990s. By the 1991–92 season, ABC was carrying regional games in many timeslots on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. By 1997, ABC's presenting sponsor was Paine Webber.[12]

Starting in 1997, coverage of the PGA Tour limited the amount of games shown; this continued through 2006. Also, beginning in 2002, coverage of the NBA further decreased college coverage by ABC Sports. Beginning with the 2007 season, all games were rebranded as part of the ESPN on ABC brand change (meaning that all sports telecasts on ABC would exclusively feature ESPN's graphics, music and announcers) and Sunday games were discontinued. From 2007 until 2009, all games begun at 3:30 pm ET, which was a departure from the different times that games were broadcast previously. Also for 2007–2009, the presenting sponsor was Kentucky Fried Chicken.


From 2010 to 2013, ABC broadcast the semi-finals and finals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament. In 2014, ABC only broadcast the semi-finals.


All rankings are from that week's AP Poll.

2009 schedule


  • January 17: #3 Wake Forest 78 at #9 Clemson 68 (split-national, 70% of the United States)
  • January 17: Kansas 73 at Colorado 56 (split-national, 30% of the United States)
  • January 31: #6 North Carolina 93 at North Carolina State 76 (split-national, 78% of the United States)
  • January 31: Stanford 63 at #16 UCLA 97 (split-national, 22% of the United States)
  • February 7: Oklahoma State 67 at #24 Kansas 78 (split-national, 82% of the United States)
  • February 7: Arizona 87 at Oregon 77 (split-national, 18% of the United States)
  • February 14: #16 Kansas 85 at Kansas State 74 (split-national, 75% of the United States)
  • February 14: Florida 86 at Georgia 88 (split-national, 25% of the United States)
  • February 21: #3 North Carolina 85 at Maryland 88
  • February 28: #7 Duke 72 at Virginia Tech 65 (split-national, 81% of the United States)
  • February 28: #3 Oklahoma 78 at Texas Tech 63 (split-national, 19% of the United States)
  • March 7: Oklahoma State 78 at #5 Oklahoma 82 (split-national, 59% of the United States)
  • March 7: Maryland 63 at Virginia 68 (split-national, 23% of the United States)
  • March 7: Oregon 68 at #17 UCLA 94 (split-national, 18% of the United States, no HD)

2008 schedule


2008 marked the addition of HD games.

2007 schedule

2007 marked the beginning of the standardized broadcast time of 3:30.


  • January 13: #1 North Carolina 88 at Virginia Tech 94 (split-national)
  • January 13: Oklahoma 69 at #25 Texas 80 (split-national)
  • January 20: #17 Duke 73 at North Carolina State 56
  • February 3: #3 North Carolina 79 at North Carolina State 83 (split-national)
  • February 3: Kansas State 73 at #23 Texas 72 (split-national)
  • February 10: #8 Kansas 92 at Missouri 74 (split-national)
  • February 10: Arizona 77 at #15 Oregon 74 (split-national)
  • February 17: Connecticut 63 at Syracuse 73 (split-national)
  • February 17: Tennessee 64 at South Carolina 81 (split-national)
  • February 17: #6 Texas A&M 56 at Oklahoma 49 (split-national)
  • February 24: #16 Marquette 73 at #23 Notre Dame 85 (split-national, 58% of the United States)
  • February 24: #19 Virginia 75 (split-national, 26% of the United States)
  • February 24: Gonzaga 86 at San Francisco 79 (split-national, 16% of the United States)
  • March 3: North Carolina State 59 at Maryland 79 (split-national, 56% of the United States)
  • March 3: Oklahoma 61 at Kansas State 72 (split-national, 24% of the United States)
  • March 3: Arizona 85 at Stanford 80 (split-national, 20% of the United States)

2006 schedule


  • January 21, 1:00: Texas Tech 48 at #25 Oklahoma 60
  • January 21, 6:00: California 55 at Arizona 60 (west coast only)
  • February 11, 3:30: Charlotte 56 at Wake Forest 59 (split-national)
  • February 11, 3:30: Oklahoma State 44 at Texas A&M 46 (split-national)
  • February 11, 3:30: #13 UCLA 67 at #21 Washington 70 (split-national)
  • February 18, 1:00: #21 NC State 70 at Virginia Tech 64 (split-national)
  • February 18, 1:00: Iowa State 82 at #19 Oklahoma 83 (split-national)
  • February 18, 6:00: #5 Gonzaga 79 at Loyola Marymount 70 (west coast only)
  • February 19, 1:30: #23 North Carolina 83 at Wake Forest 72 (split-national)
  • February 19, 1:30: #6 Texas 60 at Oklahoma State 81 (split-national)
  • February 25, 1:00: Wake Forest 61 at Georgia Tech 76 (split-national)
  • February 25, 1:00: Texas Tech 63 at Oklahoma State 74 (split-national)
  • February 25, 7:00: Stanford 39 at Washington State 37 (west coast only)


In the early years, Keith Jackson[17][18] and Dick Vitale[19][20] were the top announcing crew, while Gary Bender[21] was the number two play-by-play man behind Jackson. Meanwhile, Al Michaels[22] did regional games during this period. When Brent Musburger[23] came over from CBS in late 1990, he started working with Dick Vitale on the top team. Jim Valvano[24][25] did color commentary on games for ABC for a few years until his death in 1993. ABC paired Vitale and Valvano as co-analysts a few times in the 1991–92 season. In the 1992–93 season, Terry Gannon filled in on a few games for Valvano, who was the battling cancer that would ultimately claim his life in April 1993. Many of the announcers worked for ABC and ESPN, and ABC continued to use ESPN announcers, reporters and commentators until 2009, never quite establishing firm ABC broadcasting teams even after the ESPN on ABC brand switch.

See also


  1. ^ "Milestone firsts in college basketball TV history". Classic Sports TV and Media. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  2. ^ William Oscar Johnson, William Taaffe December 26, 1988 "A Whole New Game". Sports Illustrated. Two megabuck TV deals may change the face of baseball for good, or not so good Meanwhile the cupboards of the other two networks are comparatively bare. Once the colossus of TV sports, ABC has a good college-football package, Monday Night Football (a so-so performer these days); a middling college-basketball contract; and a number of individual events, including the Triple Crown races, the Indianapolis 500, the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and golf's U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. ABC's biggest shortcoming, at least in terms of prestige, is that for the first time since 1960 it doesn't have either a Winter or Summer Games in its lineup. Indeed, after losing the Barcelona Olympics, the network decided not to adorn a new truck, which it had recently ordered, with its traditional ABC Sports Olympic slogan.
  3. ^ William Oscar Johnson (December 12, 1988). "A Golden Opportunity". Sports Illustrated. NBC surprised everyone, including its own staff, by winning the TV rights to the '92 Games for a record $401 million Not only that, but ABC, the once reigning champion of TV sports, is widely expected to deal itself out of baseball's new television contract, which will be announced later this month. This would leave the network with week-to-week sports programming consisting of the NFL's less-than-splendid Monday Night Football, some college football, lots of golf and a college basketball package that doesn't include the NCAA Final Four.
  4. ^ ABC Intershow February 1987 on YouTube
  5. ^ ABC Men's College Basketball TV Schedule
  6. ^ William F. Reed (December 12, 1988). "College Basketball". Sports Illustrated. The Big Four Classic has two more years left in its TV contract with ABC; if NCAA sanctions, that Kentucky seems sure to get, include no regular-season TV appearances, what would the Big Four do? Postpone the classic until the Cats get out of the doghouse? Play as scheduled with ABC televising only the game not involving Kentucky? Replace the Wildcats with, say, Western Kentucky?
  7. ^ 90's Commercials Vol. 60 on YouTube
  8. ^ Sports4. Online Sports. The biggest time-buy arrangement is between Raycom and ABC. For the 1991–92 season, it paid ABC $1.8 million for six weeks of air time—13 telecasts—covering 26 college basketball games regionally. Raycom used ABC on-air talent including Brent Musburger, Dick Vitale, Jim Valvano, Gary Bender, Cheryl Miller, and Mark Jones.
  9. ^ PaineWebber to sponsor ABC/Raycom college basketball.
  10. ^ William Taaffe (October 12, 1987). "It's Bottom-line Time". Sports Illustrated. The TV networks are cutting costs in sports programming, and inevitably the quality has begun to deteriorate Also revealing is ABC's whirlwind use of network crews on last season's college basketball games. The cameramen and technicians typically arrived at an arena to set up at around 2 am on the day of the game so the network could save on expenses. They then caught a few hours' sleep, returned to the arena to televise the game, broke down the equipment and flew home so as not to run up costs the following day.
  11. ^ Sandomir, Richard (January 31, 1992). "TV SPORTS; Syndicator Gives ABC Easy Fast Break on Profit". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  12. ^ Handful of March 1997 ABC commercials on YouTube
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Keith's long and illustrious career, marked by numerous awards, covers a variety of sports such as NCAA Basketball championships, major league baseball, boxing and championship auto racing. Throughout his sportscasting career, spanning 31 different countries, his simple broadcast philosophy prevails--"Amplify, Clarify and Punctuate and let the viewer draw his or her own conclusion."
  18. ^ William Taaffe (February 9, 1987). "Abc's Keith Jackson: A Hoss Of A Broadcaster". Sports Illustrated. During ABC's series of Sunday afternoon games KJ will team with DV, Dick Vitale, who has made his name as a wild and crazy commentator on ESPN.
  19. ^ He has been a college basketball analyst for ABC Sports since 1988, and has also covered the NBA Finals and the 1992 Summer Olympics for ABC Radio.
  20. ^ Jack McCallum (November 2, 1987). "In Your Face, Comrades!". Sports Illustrated. And for just a moment Dick Vitale actually lowered his voice. Later, Vitale, who did color commentary on ABC's telecast of Sunday's game, interviewed Gomelsky.
  21. ^ 1987–1991: Sportscaster for ABC covering college football, basketball and Monday Night Football
  22. ^ Michaels also has worked on ABC's "NCAA Football' and college basketball telecasts, in addition to covering a variety of "ABC's Wide World of Sports" events and "The Superstars."
  23. ^ A preeminent voice of college football and college basketball play-by-play, Musburger also hosted the 1991 Pan American Games from Cuba.
  24. ^ "Valvano Agrees To 3-Year Abc Deal" The Washington Post
  25. ^ "Take The V Out Of Tv, Please". Sports Illustrated.
Preceded by
NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship television broadcaster
Succeeded by