Kristian Hernandez | December 12, 2018
A master of wordplay that has enhanced the lexicon of sports broadcasting, Dick Vitale has inhabited the TV screens of college-basketball fans for four decades. With a résumé that includes numerous Hall of Fame inductions (notably, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Hall of Fame), eight movie appearances (including Blue Chips and He Got Game), nine books, and iconic calls, he has always had a simple motto that has kept him grounded.
“My parents told me to never, ever believe in the word can’t and to always be good to people,” Vitale says. “I used to hear at the dinner table every day that, if you’re good to people, a lot of good things are going to happen for you.”
Growing up in East Rutherford, NJ, Vitale graduated from Seton Hall University after four years at East Rutherford High School. In athletics, he was involved in all sports, but basketball presented a unique opportunity.
“I realized that, if you want to get ahead in the coaching profession as a guy that wasn’t a great player or had a recognizable name, the quickest way to the top was basketball,” he says. “I went to as many clinics and camps as I could and studied as much as I could about the game.”
Beginning his coaching career at the high school level, Vitale found his first taste of success at his alma mater, earning two consecutive state titles during a seven-year tenure. He rose through the coaching ranks and became head coach at the University of Detroit. He excelled at the helm, leading the Titans to a 21-game winning streak and, in 1977, capturing the school’s second NCAA-tournament appearance.
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