Dick Vitale, back in Allen Fieldhouse today, raises funds for pediatric-cancer research every day
How much would you pay for an all-expenses-paid, eight-day trip that included front row-seats for Oklahoma visiting Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse last Monday, then Syracuse at Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday, and then back to Allen Fieldhouse today to watch Texas play KU in an 8 p.m. tipoff?
"Can you believe ESPN pays me for this?" Vitale beamed last week after rattling off a schedule that called for him to analyze games featuring a Diaper Dandy trio of Trae Young, Marvin Bagley and Mohamed Bamba, plus seniors Devonte' Graham and Grayson Allen, and a seat in two venues with such rich history.
Vitale, 78, doesn't show any signs of aging, and is always ready to weigh in with opinions, such as:
"My No. 1 seeds: Villanova, Virginia, Michigan State and Kansas."
"Indiana never should have fired Tom Crean. Two Big Ten titles. Three Sweet 16 appearances. Are you kidding me?"
This from his blog that appears on DickVitaleonline.com: "I believe the Wildcats must be banned from March Madness if all of this is true and the wiretap is pretty amazing proof. (DeAndre) Ayton should be declared ineligible if he took the alleged cash mentioned in FBI report. ... (Sean) Miller has now ruined his coaching career."
Vitale has been calling games for so long — DePaul's 90-77 defeat of Wisconsin, Dec. 5, 1979, was his first — that some might not remember how successful he was during a four-year stint as head coach of University of Detroit, where he posted a 79-29 record.
Vitale coached his final team to a 26-3 record that included a victory at eventual national-champion Marquette, coached by his friend, the late, great Al McGuire. Vitale coached the Titans into the Sweet 16 that year and then spent a year as the school's athletic director. After that, he accepted the Detroit Pistons' coaching offer and was fired 12 games into his second season. Not even a full month later, he found a home in the broadcast booth.
Vitale has used his fame in recent years to raise funds for pediatric-cancer research with his Dick Vitale Gala. The 13th-annual event is scheduled for May 11 in Sarasota. Vitale said it has raised $21 million, including a record $3.1 million last year.
"It's probably the most important thing I do in my life right now, giving back to help kids," Vitale said.
It's an arm of the V Foundation, named after late North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano.
"Every dollar goes to the V Foundation," Vitale said. "We've raised $200 million. My $21 million is strictly for pediatric cancer."
Vitale recently spoke at a funeral of a pediatric-cancer victim he had befriended.
"Toughest speech I ever had to give in my life," Vitale said. "I'm obsessed with this stuff. I have five healthy grandkids and I wouldn’t want them to go through the pain that these kids have gone through. ... Here's the sad part that a lot of people don't know: Four cents out of every dollar raised for cancer goes to pediatrics. Four cents. Mine, every dollar goes to it.”
Visit DickVitaleonline.com for information on how to join Vitale's fight.