UH alumnus owns success
Before CBS lead play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz was narrating historic shots at the Masters or describing the dynamic dunks of the Final Four, he was a UH student-athlete sinking putts for the Cougars beside teammate Fred Couples.
With his bachelor’s degree in radio and television communications, Nantz ascended to the top of the media totem pole to become a sports broadcast icon.’
‘The professors at the University were very good to me,’ Nantz said. ‘They wanted to hold you up and make you believe that anything that you wanted to do, was attainable, and it worked for me.’
‘I hope that there are people still there at the University that take a (level) of pride in knowing, one of their students was soaking up everything that they were offering to me – in terms of knowledge.’
Nantz will cover the NCAA Men’s Division I Final Four Saturday and the National Championship on Monday in Detroit, Mich., marking his 24th year as NCAA tournament play-by-play.
Soon after March Madness subsides, Nantz will be in Augusta, Ga. to cover the Professional Golfer’s Association’s Masters April 9 ‘- 12.
Nantz’s life has been filled with awards and accomplishments, including a No. 3 spot on the 2008 New York Times bestseller list with his book, Always By My Side: A Father’s Grace and Sports Journey Unlike Any Other.
Always by My Side was the highest ranked sports book of the year.
Nantz wrote the book as a tribute to his father, who was an Alzheimer victim, and to the many father figures who helped him land a job with CBS.
He said some of that success is owed to his UH professors.
‘I always felt my father’s towering presence every step of the way, and my father became a tribute to all the people that were like mentors, father figures and guiding light in my life,’ Nantz said. ‘People that impacted my career had the same kind of virtues as my dad. Some of them were directly tied to the University of Houston.’
In 2001, UH awarded Nantz an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for his contributions to his profession and the University.
The doctorate is given to individuals who have excelled in literature. For someone to receive such an award, the University enacts committees to nominate worthy individuals every year. Then the person nominated is invited to give a speech to faculty and graduates at graduation ceremonies.
Some of the awards that he has received include the youngest possessor of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy award for broadcasting and the 2008 National Sportscaster of the Year. In 2007, Nantz also managed an uncommon feat in broadcasting a triple, covering the Super Bowl, NCAA Men’s Final Four and the Masters, in a 63-day span, according to CBS Sports.
While at UH, Nantz interned for local radio and television stations.
He worked at KHOU-TV and KTRH-AM.
Nantz said students should start getting job experiences while studying in college.
‘While you are still in school, be gaining the experience in concert with your learning,’ Nantz said. ‘No one is just going to give you a job, you got to go out and find creative ways to get exposed.’