Charles Barkley, Steve Kerr Among Those to Join NCAA Telecasts on CBS & TNT
When news broke in April that CBS and Turner had joined forces to lock up the rights to the NCAA men's basketball tournament for 14 years, one of the first pieces of speculation turned to whether the always volatile Charles Barkley would be added to the announcing mix for one of the more staid telecasts in the business.
Not only will Barkley be one of the studio analysts for the tournament in March, but the two entities announced Thursday that NBA analyst Steve Kerr will join ASA members Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg for a three-man booth at the Final Four.
CBS Sports President Sean McManus said, during a conference call to promote the network's AFC Championship Game coverage, that Barkley, whom he spoke with Wednesday during a Turner function, will be a key part of the telecast.
"Charles is excited about it," McManus said. "He's obviously a student of the game. He loves the game of college basketball. Our goal was to take the best of CBS and blend in the best of Turner. I think we've done that."
Barkley's penchant for, shall we say, free-flowing thought and filter-less expression may prove to be as entertaining to watch and listen for as the games, as well as challenging for producers and executives.
Under the terms of the deal, CBS and Turner will share on-air and production duties, as well as costs during the tournament, which will air on CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV in the first three rounds this year. CBS will air the regional finals and the Final Four exclusively until 2016, when Turner will get a piece of the regional finals each year and the Final Four and title game in alternate years.
On March 15, CBS' lead announcing team of Nantz and Kellogg and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson will be joined by Kerr for the first two of the four new play-in games to air on TruTV, which will air the next day's doubleheader with the always excitable Gus Johnson and Len Elmore of CBS on the call with Turner's Craig Sager, ASA member, working the sidelines.
ASA member Marv Albert, who usually does NBA games with Kerr, will team with him to do games in the first three rounds. In addition, Reggie Miller will work with Kevin Harlan, his Turner NBA partner and Dan Bonner on first and second round games before Miller heads to the studio for the second week.
CBS' Greg Gumbel, ASA member, and Turner's Ernie Johnson will share studio hosting duties from New York, joined by Barkley and Kenny Smith from NBA coverage and CBS holdover and ASA member Greg Anthony. Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis will be in an Atlanta studio with anchor Matt Winer and Steve Smith for the first week, before Davis goes to New York for the second week. Wolfson and Sager will be joined in sideline reporting duties by ASA member Lesley Visser, David Aldridge, Sam Ryan and Marty Snider.