Dick Vitale ʼ63
After earning a degree in business administration from Seton Hall, Dick Vitale began building a career that would eventually make him a household name. Starting as an elementary school teacher in Garfield, N.J., he coached junior high school football and basketball before moving on to his alma mater, East Rutherford High School, where he lead the basketball team to four state sectional championships, two consecutive state championships and 35 consecutive victories. He coached at Rutgers University and later at the University of Detroit, where he was named athletic director. In May 1978, he was named head coach of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
Vitale found another way to express his love of the game when he joined ESPN during the network’s inaugural season in 1979. He called ESPN’s first NCAA basketball game on Dec. 5, 1979. Since then, he’s called to a thousand more. Four years after entering the TV business, Vitale was named one of the sport’s “Five Most Influential Personalities” by Basketball Times.
His unique style of commentary has resulted in phrases that have become part of popular sports vernacular. Just a few of his “Vitale-isms” include: “Awesome, Baby!” “Get a TO, Baby!” (call a timeout); “PTP’er” (prime-time player) and “diaper dandy” (freshman star).
Vitale’s passion, however, extends far beyond basketball. He is on the Board of Directors of The V Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has raised millions of dollars to aid researchers in finding a cure for cancer. He also serves on the advisory boards of the Harlem Globetrotters and the Iba Citizen Awards. He is extremely active with the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota, Fla., and awards annual scholarships through the organization.
In recognition of his selfless dedication to a variety of charitable organizations and service to others, Seton Hall University presented Vitale with its 2014 Many Are One Humanitarian Award.