Bill Raftery Kisses ESPN Goodbye, Moves to Fox Sports 1
On Thursday, Fox Sports 1 announced the hiring of legendary college basketball announcer Bill Raftery from ESPN to be the network's lead analyst for Big East college basketball games.
Raftery will team up with dynamic play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson on Fox Sports 1 and will continue to call regular-season and NCAA tournament games for CBS.
The new Big East Conference, composed of the "Catholic 7" plus Butler, Xavier, and Creighton, and FOX Sports 1 have a television deal and FOX Sports 1 announced it is slated to televise over 100 Big East men’s regular-season basketball games this coming season.
The network, which will debut on August 17, said the "non-conference schedule begins Friday, Nov. 8, the likely date of the first Johnson-Raftery assignment."
“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.”
Gus "Rise and fire" Johnson said Raftery "offers everything that makes college basketball so special: energy; enthusiasm; and zeal."
“Combine those traits with his unmatched intelligence and sense of humor and you have one of the finest college basketball voices in the country," Johnson said. "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."
Raftery has covered basketball for the last 32 years and is known for his patented words like "the kiss" or "onions."