Musburger Says Farewell to CBS After Championship Broadcast
DENVER (AP) _ Brent Musburger, closing out his 15-year career at CBS on top by doing the play-by-play of the NCAA basketball championship, bid goodbye to the network but not to sports broadcasting.
″Folks, I’ve had the best seat in the house. Thanks for sharing it. I’ll see you down the road,″ Musburger said Monday in the final moments of CBS’ broadcast of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’ 103-73 victory over Duke.
CBS announced Sunday that it wouldn’t renew Musburger’s $2 million-a-year contract after it expires June 30.
Musburger, CBS’ signature sports voice for more than a decade, saved his brief farewell for the end of the game.
″As you know, this was my last assignment with CBS after 22 years with the television network, radio network and the stations,″ Musburger said.
″I had an opportunity to work with the greatest directors, producers, technicians in the world. Not to mention analysts, like my good friend Billy Packer. Billy, we have shared some great memories.″
Musburger then put his arm around Packer, his broadcasting partner on college basketball.
After the broadcast, fans in McNichols Arena shouted encouragement to Musburger.
″You’re a pro, baby,″ one yelled.
Musburger saluted the fans with a thumbs-up and raised his index finger to signify No. 1. His assistant, Jimmy Tubbs, said the broadcaster would not discuss his departure from CBS while in Denver but would be available later in the week.
The main issues in Musburger’s contract dispute apparently were money and high-profile assignments, CBS said. Musburger, the network’s most prominent sportscaster, wanted more of both than the network was willing to give.
Musburger is in his sixth season as lead play-by-play man for the NCAA basketball tournament and has been host of ″The NFL Today″ since 1975. He also has broadcast college football and was anchorman of CBS’ coverage of the Masters golf tournament, the NBA finals, the Pan American Games and U.S. Open tennis highlights.
CBS’ most pressing problem in replacing Musburger is finding another No. 1 baseball broadcaster before airing its first game April 14. Musburger was to have teamed with Tim McCarver on baseball telecasts.
He was also in line to be host of the network’s coverage of the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics.
Al Michaels is considered the top candidate to replace Musburger if ABC lets him out of his contract, which runs into 1993. Michaels, an experience baseball broadcaster, is reportedly feuding with ABC’s sports president.
Michaels’ agent, Art Kaminsky, would not speculate about his client’s chances of switching networks.
Another possibility is simply filling Musburger’s roles with other CBS announcers. CBS Sports President Neal Pilson wants to give younger sportscasters such as Jim Nantz, Greg Gumbel and James Brown expanded duties.
″He’s got a lot of talent there,″ Kaminsky said. ″He can take care of this internally, if he chooses.″