The Network of the NCAA Basketball Championship
By SUSAN KERR CBS Sports
When CBS Sports was first awarded the right to broadcast the NCAA Basketball Championship in March 1981, a unique and ambitious television production plan was prepared to be put into action the following March. The plan included three key elements. First was the creation of the now familiar Selection Show, a live, pre-touma-ment presentation of the seedings and pairings of all invited teams. In addition, a special studio setting and permanent host were designated to give importance to the comprehensive coverage of all games, highlights, score updates and breaking sports news. Lastly, increased coverage of early round action was introduced to encourage viewer involvement not just in the "Final Four," but for complete tournament coverage — from even before opening night until the final buzzer sounded at the Championship game.
The plan was designed to further augment the tremendous growth of this event into one of America's greatest sporting attractions. According to Kevin O'Malley, Executive Producer of College Sports for CBS. "The NCAA Basketball Championship has been a major sporting event for many years. What we have tried to accomplish with our broad-based coverage is to parallel the explosion of national interest and enthusiasm that this sport and this Championship have experienced. Our coverage, like the stature of the event with millions of fans around the country, has grown each year."
Brent Musburger and Billy Packer
Peter Lund Kevin O'Malley
The 1984 contract renewal for broadcast of the NCAA Championship is the first year in a new. multi-year contract that will take CBS Sports down the exclusive "Road to the Final Four." Again CBS will continue the tradition of satisfying as many college basketball fans as possible, as often as possible. The "Road to Lexington" includes 19 game exposures, more than ever before seen on any network. For the first time. CBS Sports broadcast two, live semi-final regional games giving viewers the opportunity to watch more complete competition on each day of the tournament. Consistent with our first three years of coverage, the story began with live coverage of the Selection Show. Once again this year, the drama unfolded in Kansas City where the 64 teams invited to compete were revealed. CBS Sports detailed the full picture of the record number of teams — a real challenge for the broadcast team producing the show.
For the past three years, CBS Sports' Brent Musburger has been the oracle of the sport, serving as studio host and providing fans with all the latest information during the NCAA Championship. "I have never seen anything like the growth this tournament has undergone in the last three years. Probably no sports event has attracted such enormous national following in such a short time. I am happy to say that our coverage has been involved with that expansion. There is a special ritual that spells every basketball fan come tournament time — as if we know winter is over and spring has arrived as soon as the Championship begins in March."
This year, CBS Sports is proud to have Brent Musburger even more intimately involved in NCAA Basketball. He will team up with CBS Sports expert analyst Billy Packer
to do play-by-play throughout the Championships, in what many consider as impressive a duo that has ever been paired in the television booth.
The novel notion held when CBS Sports was establishing a game plan paid off in an Emmy Award — basketball's first — and the huge reward of several top-rated broadcasts. Those include two in the past two years, the most watched NCAA Basketball Championship game when North Carolina State defeated Houston on April 4, 1983 and a record 18,580,000 homes tuned in — as well as the highest rated NCAA Championship semifinal game which received a 17.8 rating when Houston played Louisville just two days before. The milestones reached after continuous and increased coverage of the tournament enable all those involved in the planning stages to be proud of having conceived of and implemented an ambitious plan that really worked. And we'll do it again, bringing innovative and exciting coverage of the NCAA Championships to all the many millions of fans of the best in college sports.
The National Collegiate Division I Men's Basketball Committee and the NCAA were deeply saddened by the recent death of Rick Sharp, who was the lead college basketball producer for CBS Sports from 1982 to 1985.
Mr. Sharp's professional talents were best recognized when he was awarded the prestigious Emmy Award for his production of the 1982 championship game In New Orleans. He personally was considered a special friend to all who knew him.