He won just 78 games and only reached one NCAA tournament at Detroit. And he did so more than 30 years ago.
But Dick Vitale’s still the most famous coach the University of Detroit’s ever had because of his post-coaching career calling college hoops games at ESPN. The man’s an institution and in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Soon he’ll have a court named after him too.
Detroit announced Vitale will be honored in December when it dedicates Dick Vitale Court at Calihan Hall. It’ll coincide with a nationally televised game between Detroit and St. John’s (on ESPN2) that’s also the 32nd anniversary of Vitale calling his first game for the network.
“What Dick has done for the game of college basketball is nothing short of remarkable, and it is only fitting that we honor him in such a special way – given his career started right here at U of D as a head coach,” UDM Director of Athletics Keri Gaither said in the release. “Dick Vitale Court at Calihan Hall will serve as a perpetual and lasting tribute to not only Dick’s time at Detroit but also his significant contributions to the sport over several decades.”
Those contributions usually came with Vitale at full volume. The man with a million catchphrases and boundless enthusiasm for college hoops is also one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors. Everyone’s heard of Dickie V. Some loathe his shtick, but it’s tough to argue that he’s been bad for the game.
It’s that lasting influence – not his 78-30 mark in four seasons at Detroit – that earned him this honor. He’s incredibly proud of it, too. He should be. It usually takes years and years of winning (a national title usually helps) to have a school name a court after you. This doesn’t happen every day.
“Let me tell you my friends, this is an incredible honor,” he says in a video produced for the honor. “I will put it as one of the highest awards I have ever received.”
(Thanks, Matt Norlander)
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