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Bill Raftery leaving ESPN for Fox Sports 1

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Bill Raftery, who's been a staple in college hoops for three decades, will call games for a new network. (USATSI)
Bill Raftery, who's been a staple in college hoops for three decades, will call games for a new network. (USATSI)

I've done my best and, as you can see, have somehow succeeded in not elbowing in a Bill Raftery-related pun into this opening sentence.

The winsome Raftery, a college basketball color commentator for the past three decades, is leaving ESPN to work for the upstart national network, Fox Sports 1. The news was first reported by The Big Lead. The report linked to an official announcement by Fox Sports 1, which, in the meantime, has been taken down.

The move comes in conjunction with Fox Sports 1's broadcast rights to the new Big East. College hoops fans know that Big East games have long been part of Raftery's repertoire. He coached Seton Hall for 11 seasons, from 1970-1981, and then he was the voice of "Big Monday" on ESPN for many years.

With Raftery moving to Fox Sports 1, plans are reportedly in place to team him up with Gus Johnson, the excitable play-by-play man who has worked with Raftery in the past to enjoyable results.

Upon his departure from ESPN, the network offered this statement on Raftery: "We completely understand his interest in remaining associated with the core group of schools that he's been part of for 30+ years. We wish him the absolute best in his next chapter and thank him for his incredible contributions to ESPN."

Raftery, who's been with CBS for NCAA tournament games since 1991, will continue to call games for the Big Dance at the network in March.

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