FOX SPORTS WELCOMES RENOWNED COLLEGE BASKETBALL ANALYST BILL RAFTERY TO FOLD
Man Who Made "With a Kiss!" his Signature Paired with "Rise and Fire" Gus Johnson for BIG EAST Regular-Season and Tournament Telecasts on FOX Sports 1
New York - In March, the BIG EAST Conference and FOX Sports entered into a landmark media rights agreement covering all conference-controlled men's basketball games. Today, FOX Sports makes another landmark announcement as it has reached an agreement with renowned college basketball announcer Bill Raftery to serve as lead BIG EAST game analyst, teaming with the incomparable Gus Johnson on regular-season and all BIG EAST Men's Basketball Tournament games televised on FOX Sports 1, America's new national multi-sport channel launching Aug. 17. Raftery continues in his role as a lead analyst for men's regular-season college basketball and NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament coverage on CBS.
"I was fortunate to work at ESPN since its inception, and I'll be forever grateful to all the talented, professional people who supported me along the way. I leave with nothing but terrific memories and friendships," said Raftery. "Today, though, we turn the page. I've been associated with the BIG EAST Conference since it began, and I feel the same excitement and anticipation now as I did way back then as the conference is re-born with FOX Sports. I'm really looking forward to being reunited with my former CBS partner, Gus Johnson, whose style I love and passion for college basketball is unmatched."
"Adding a renowned, popular veteran like Bill Raftery to a family of announcers at FOX Sports that already includes many of sports television's biggest names is an incredible coup," said FOX Sports Executive Vice President and Executive Producer John Entz. "More importantly, in teaming Bill with Gus, we have reunited the most energized, entertaining college basketball broadcast team ever, and we can't wait for them to work their first game."
"As an analyst, Bill Raftery offers everything that makes college basketball so special: energy; enthusiasm; and zeal," said Johnson. "Combine those traits with his unmatched intelligence and sense of humor and you have one of the finest college basketball voices in the country. I have had the privilege of knowing Bill and calling games with him for 20 years and I can't wait to sit courtside with him this November for FOX."
FOX Sports 1 is slated to televise over 100 BIG EAST men's regular-season basketball games this coming season. The non-conference schedule begins Friday, Nov. 8, the likely date of the first Johnson-Raftery assignment.
For the last 32 years, the passionate Raftery has covered basketball as an analyst on television and radio for CBS, ESPN and CBS Radio. The NCAA Tournament and Final Four, the BIG EAST Championship, the Big Ten Championship, the ACC Championship, the SEC Championship and New Jersey Nets telecasts are just a few of the premier events that he has had the privilege of calling during his career. He brings playing and coaching experience to every telecast, offering keen analysis and opinion with unsurpassed enthusiasm. Heard during almost every basketball telecast he works, "With a kiss!" has become Raftery's signature phrase for a bank shot.
Raftery began his broadcasting career in 1982 with ESPN, where he served as a game analyst for college basketball through this past season. Over the span, he also distinguished himself as an analyst on CBS's college basketball coverage, and has served as a game analyst for Westwood One/CBS Radio's coverage of the NCAA Men's Final Four since 1991.
From 1970 to 1981, Raftery served as head basketball coach at Seton Hall University, where he revitalized the program and led the Pirates to seven straight winning seasons and a record of 154-141. He led the team to four ECAC post-season tournaments and two National Invitational Tournament appearances. His 154 wins as a coach place him fourth on the all-time list at Seton Hall behind Honey Russell, P.J. Carlesimo and Frank Hill. Raftery also served as President of the BIG EAST Coaches Association from 1979 to 1981. Prior to coaching at Seton Hall, Raftery spent five years coaching at Fairleigh Dickinson University where he led the Jersey Devils to a 63-48 record from 1963 to 1968. In his final year at FDU, he led the team to an 18-6 record and earned Coach of the Year honors from the New Jersey Basketball Writers Association.
A standout on the court as well, Raftery played three seasons at LaSalle University under legendary coach Donald "Dudley" Moore. During the 1959-60 season, he set a freshman scoring mark with 370 points. The next year, he led the varsity team with 17.8 points per game and in his senior year, he co-captained the Explorers to the National Invitational Tournament. Following his senior year at LaSalle, he was drafted by the New York Knicks.
In 2004 Raftery received a special Victor Sports Award and the Walter Payton 'Sweetness' Award in recognition of his outstanding work in the community throughout his lifetime. He also won a New York Sports Emmy in the category of Single Event Coverage for Game 5 of the New Jersey Nets-Indiana Pacers series during the 2002 NBA Playoffs.
Raftery earned a degree in history from LaSalle and master's degree in education from Seton Hall. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from LaSalle University in 2001, and serves as President of W.J. Raftery Associates, an events/marketing firm.