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Benched: Dick Vitale on no NCAA Tournament, quarantine and proposed NCAA rule change

DETROIT – Dick Vitale was about to get on a plane to broadcast the SEC basketball tournament when he found out, this March, there would be no Madness.

“I was getting ready to go do the SEC tournament,” Dick Vitale said. “I found out the day before I got on a plane to do the semifinals and finals. And then, I would have gone to the Final Four. CBS has the rights to the tournament, but I work for ESPN International to do the games for 150 countries and I was looking forward to it.”

Vitale believes there was a strong possibility Michigan State would have been at the Final Four this year. That’s heartbreaking for the seniors, but Vitale puts it into perspective.

“I told many athletes, if that is the biggest thing that happens in your life, you’re going to have a good life,” he said. “Sometimes you understand something can always happen and you have to deal with it.”

Now Vitale is at home in Florida and has been on the phone constantly with college coaches discussing the proposed NCAA rule change to allow players to transfer and be eligible immediately.

“I was telling Calipari and Bill Self and Tom Izzo, I love the game and I think it would be very detrimental for the game,” Vitale said. “For example, if you go to Western Michigan and you were not a big-time recruit out of high school, but now you show you can play, the big schools are going to raid those schools. Other end, if you are Tom Izzo or Juwan Howard, people are going to be wheeling and dealing with your players who aren’t starters. They will say ‘Hey man, if you come over here, I know that coach will take you. You’ll play 35 minutes. It will be a disaster!”

You can tell, Vitale feels very strongly about that.

Besides basketball, his heart lies with kids battling cancer. He’s raised millions for the V Foundation.

“There’s nothing more important to me,” Vitale said. “So far, we raised $29.5 million for kids battling cancer. This year, I want to raise $5 million. We moved our gala to September 4th and I pray we can still have it.”

On top of staying in and staying safe, Vitale is passing the time online.

“I go to Youtube and I watch concerts,” he said. “Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Neil Diamond, Celine Dion. I love Celine Dion.”

To help Vitale with his mission to battle childhood cancer, click here.

He wrote a new book in which all proceeds go to the V Foundation. You can purchase it here.

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