CHARLOTTE, NC – Billy Packer, an Emmy Award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82 years old.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had various medical problems and eventually died of kidney failure.

Packer’s television career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as an analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” said Mark Packer. “He calculated it well. Everything in life is about time. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans going crazy for March Madness.»

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that earned him the most praise.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s last game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire as Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State team in the title game. That remains the highest-rated game in basketball history with a Nielsen rating of 24.1, estimated at 35.1 million viewers.

Packer moved to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s top analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 on CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term «tough monkey» to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said that he «was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind that have to do with Allen Iverson’s career.»

Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports, Packer said was «synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard for excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.»

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport,” McManus said. “In Billy’s way, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, but always kept his focus on the game. Despite his passion for basketball, Billy was a family man at heart. He leaves part of his legacy behind on CBS Sports, in college basketball, and most importantly, as a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He will be sorely missed by all.»

Packer was inducted into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN announcer Dick Vitale took to Twitter when news of Packer’s death spread. “Very saddened to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) are with Billy’s son, Mark, and the entire Packer family. I always had great RESPECT for Billy and his partners Dick Enberg and Al McGuire, they were great. That Billy RIP”.

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will stay in my head forever.»

From left, announcers Billy Packer, Dick Enberg and Al McGuire in 1980. NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Packer was seen as a controversial figure during his broadcast days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s «Tobacco Road.»

“Growing up, I was a huge NC State fan and I’d watch a game and the next day I’d be like, ‘Wow, you sure have a thing for NC State, don’t you?’ And he just laughed,» said Mark Packer.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said no matter which school, most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He was covering the North Carolina game and the Tar Heels fans were like, ‘You hate North Carolina,’” Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would say, ‘you hate us.’ And Billy just enjoyed it.»

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he will remember him even more for his business acumen. He said that his father was a big real estate investor and that he also owned a vaporizer company, among other businesses.

“Billy was always a bit of a con man, always looking for the next deal,” Packer said.