NCAA to honor ESPN's Dick Vitale with Gerald R. Ford Award

ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale has been honored with the NCAA President's Gerald R. Ford Award, which recognizes an individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for college sports.

"In four decades broadcasting college basketball, Dick Vitale has delighted fans with his infectious enthusiasm for the sport," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement Tuesday. "His passion for college sports never ceases, and we are thrilled to recognize him for his career advocating for college athletes so they can succeed on the court and in life."

Vitale, who has worked for ESPN since shortly after its launch in 1979, has called more than 1,000 college basketball games for the network and has been inducted into 13 halls of fame -- including the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Prior to joining ESPN, Vitale served as head coach for Detroit Mercy and also the Detroit Pistons.

"The Gerald R. Ford Award is as special as it gets," Vitale said in a statement. "I must give a big thank you to my family and all of my colleagues at ESPN, who have become a second family to me over the past 40 years, as well as all of the college basketball fans who are so important to me.

"... This honor is absolutely 'Awesome, Baby!' with a capital A."

Vitale will receive the award at the NCAA convention in Anaheim, California, on Jan. 24.