Bill Raftery
Raftery at the 2009 NCAA tournament.
Personal information
Born (1943-04-19) April 19, 1943 (age 81)
Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
Career information
High schoolSaint Cecilia (Kearny, New Jersey)
CollegeLa Salle (1960–1963)
NBA draft1963: 14th round, 82nd overall pick
Selected by the New York Knicks
Coaching career1963–1981
Career history
As coach:
1963–1968Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison
1970–1981Seton Hall
Career highlights and awards

William Joseph Raftery (born April 19, 1943) is an American basketball analyst and former college basketball coach.

Early life and playing years

Born William Joseph Raftery[1] in Orange, New Jersey, and raised in nearby Kearny,[2] Raftery grew up in a Catholic family with Irish immigrant parents, Francis and Margaret.[3] He had a brother, Francis, and a sister, Rita, who was a Catholic nun (Sr. Francis Raftery) who served as president of the College of Saint Elizabeth.[4]

Raftery graduated in 1959 from the now defunct St. Cecilia High School in Kearny, where he starred in basketball and became the all-time leading scorer in state history with 2,193 points, a record he held for nine years. (Shaheen Holloway, one of his successors as head coach at Seton Hall University, scored 42 fewer points and Kyrie Irving had 113 fewer as New Jersey high school players.)[5] He earned all-state honors in basketball and led his team to the state championship in his senior season. He was also named all-state in baseball and soccer.[6] He has been named, retroactively, Mr. Basketball USA for 1959.[7]

Raftery played for the La Salle Explorers men's basketball team under coach Donald "Dudey" Moore. During his freshman year he scored a freshman record 370 points, followed by a team leading 17.8 points per game in his sophomore year. As a senior, he co-captained the Explorers to the National Invitation Tournament.[8] Just before graduating with a B.A. in history, he was selected in the 14th round (82nd overall) of the 1963 NBA draft by the New York Knicks, but he never played in the NBA.[9][10]

Coaching career

Raftery began his coaching career at Fairleigh Dickinson University at Madison (now in Florham Park, New Jersey) where he was the head basketball coach from 1963 to 1968.[9] Also, Raftery coached golf and served as associate athletic director.

From 1970 to 1981, he was the head coach of the Seton Hall Pirates, where he posted a 154–141 record and led the team to four ECAC post-season tournaments and two National Invitational Tournament appearances. In 1979, he was named Coach of the Year by the New Jersey Sports Writers Association.[11] His 154 wins as a coach places him fifth on the all-time list at Seton Hall behind Honey Russell, P. J. Carlesimo, Frank Hill, and Kevin Willard.

Head coaching record

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison Devils[12] (NCAA College Division independent) (1963–1968)
1963–64 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 8–10
1964–65 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 10–12
1965–66 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 12–10
1966–67 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 15–9
1967–68 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 18–6
Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison: 63–47
Seton Hall Pirates[13] (NCAA University Division/Division I independent) (1970–1976)
1970–71 Seton Hall 11–15
1971–72 Seton Hall 10–16
1972–73 Seton Hall 8–17
1973–74 Seton Hall 16–11 NIT First Round
1974–75 Seton Hall 16–11
1975–76 Seton Hall 18–9
Seton Hall Pirates (New Jersey-New York 7 Conference) (1976–1979)
1976–77 Seton Hall 18–11 3–1 T–1st NIT First Round
1977–78 Seton Hall 16–11 1–5 6th
1978–79 Seton Hall 16–11 5–1 2nd
Seton Hall Pirates (Big East Conference) (1979–1981)
1979–80 Seton Hall 14–13 1–5 6th
1980–81 Seton Hall 11–16 4–10 7th
Seton Hall: 154–141 14–22
Total: 217–188

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Broadcasting career

Richard Pitino and Raftery (right) in 2011

Raftery said it was during his senior year in college, when La Salle was competing in the NIT, that legendary New York sportscaster Bob Wolff suggested he eventually consider a career in broadcasting. “It always stuck in my head,” Raftery said. “It was just one of those things in the back of my head, and I said, ‘This will keep me in the game that I enjoy.’”[14]

He began his broadcasting career as co-host of ESPN’s College Hoops Tonight in 1980. He began calling New Jersey Nets games in 1982.[15]

Raftery has served as an analyst and color commentator for CBS Sports' college basketball coverage since 1983. During CBS' coverage of March Madness, Raftery had long partnerships with James Brown (1990–93) and Sean McDonough (1995–99) but rose to prominence during his 15-year partnership (2000–14) with Verne Lundquist.[16][17]

Starting with the 2014–15 collegiate basketball season, CBS/Turner Sports partnered Raftery with Jim Nantz and Grant Hill to make up the primary announcing team for the remainder of the regular season, all the way through the NCAA men's basketball tournament and the Final Four.[18]

Raftery was also an analyst with ESPN, primarily partnered with Sean McDonough and Jay Bilas and formerly Mike Gorman for Big East games.

Before CBS elevated him to their primary announcing team, he served as an analyst for CBS Radio/Westwood One's coverage of the NCAA Men's Final Four from 1991 to 2014[19] working in later years with Kevin Kugler and John Thompson.

After the media rights for the Big East moved from ESPN to Fox Sports in 2013, Raftery signed with Fox Sports to call Big East basketball games on the upstart network Fox Sports 1 with Gus Johnson.[20]

Raftery was also the lead analyst for the Nets (prior to the franchise's move to Brooklyn) for over 20 years until 2002[21] and was an on-course commentator for PGA Tour Champions Tour events.[8] While at CBS he also worked as an analyst for select NBA games, paired with Brent Musburger and Dick Stockton.

Beginning with the 2024 NCAA Tournament, Raftery has been paired with Ian Eagle,[22] his former partner with the Nets and frequent regular season college basketball partner.

His trademark quotes include:

Additionally, he is remembered for "Send It In, Jerome!", his call immediately after Jerome Lane of the University of Pittsburgh shattered the backboard with a powerful dunk during a 1988 game.[24]

Awards and honors

Other ventures

Aside from his commentating duties, Raftery was also the president of W.J. Raftery Associates, an event/marketing firm.[8]

Personal life

Raftery earned an M.A.E. in education from Seton Hall University in 1966.[11][28] In 2001, he received an honorary doctorate from La Salle.[11][1]

Raftery and his wife, the former Joan Fleming, live in Florida.[29] Previously they lived in Florham Park, New Jersey, where they raised four children, Billy, Kristi, Kelli and Suzi.[30] They have five grandchildren.[8]

In 2015, Billy and his father's broadcasting partner, Grant Hill, produced With A Kiss, a documentary about Raftery's first shot at calling the Final Four at age 73.[30] The documentary premiered in 2016, hours before the longtime broadcaster called his second Final Four as a television analyst for CBS Sports.[31] In 2018, Billy and Hill formed Point Road Productions.[32]


  1. ^ a b "Day Division: Bachelor of Arts". The Centenary Commencement 1963. La Salle University. 1963. p. 10.
  2. ^ "Bill Raftery". CBS News. February 20, 1999. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Bucholtz, Andrew (2016-03-08). "CBS/Turner film on Bill Raftery, produced and directed by his son, will debut April 2". Awful Announcing. Retrieved 2024-04-05.
  5. ^ Minnick, Kevin (2023-12-21). "The top scorers in N.J. boys basketball history, from Wagner to Wejnert". Retrieved 2024-04-06.
  6. ^ Tinley, Scott (March 12, 2010). "Bill Raftery: broadcaster, confidant and everyone's favorite bar buddy". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on March 16, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  7. ^ Flores, Ronnie (April 21, 2010). "The best of all-time". ESPN. Archived from the original on April 27, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d "Bill Raftery, Analyst, NCAA Tournament". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on 2014-03-29. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  9. ^ a b "Bill Raftery Wins 2006 Curt Gowdy Media Award". American Sportscasters Online. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  10. ^ "1963 NBA Draft". basketball-reference. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c "Bill Raftery". Fox Sports. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  12. ^ "Devils Men's Basketball Season-by-Season Results" (PDF). Fairleigh Dickinson University. 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  13. ^ "Bill Raftery Coaching Record".
  14. ^ a b "Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2024-04-06.
  16. ^ "College Basketball". 506 Archive. Retrieved 24 February 2024.
  17. ^ "» #TrueDetectiveSeason2".
  18. ^ Chip Patterson (February 3, 2015). "2015 Final Four: Bill Raftery, Grant Hill picked as game analysts". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
  19. ^ "Bill Raftery". Westwood One Sports. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2024.
  20. ^ Norlander, Matt (June 27, 2013). "Bill Raftery leaving ESPN for Fox Sports 1". CBS Sports. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  21. ^ "Broadcasting Legend Bill Raftery Looks Back on His Nets Days".
  22. ^ "Jim Nantz to call final NCAA Tournament with Ian Eagle as successor". 24 October 2022.
  23. ^ Eric Single (April 5, 2019). "Ranking Bill Raftery's indelible phrases of March (and April): MANTOMAN! ... Big Fella! ... Onions! (of course) and more". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  24. ^ a b Richard Sandomir (March 25, 2009). "Crisp Analysis With a Big Helping of Onions". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  25. ^ Rolling Stone - April 2, 2015
  26. ^ "William Raftery (2004) - Hall of Athletes". La Salle University Athletics. Retrieved 2024-04-06.
  27. ^ a b "Bill Raftery (1997) - Hall of Fame". Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Campus Athletics. Retrieved 2024-04-05.
  28. ^ "Alumni news & notes" (PDF), Seton Hall Magazine, p. 40, Winter–Spring 2007
  29. ^ Davis, Seth. "Hoop Thoughts: Why is Bill Raftery still grinding? What's the matter with Kansas?". The Athletic. Retrieved 2024-04-05.
  30. ^ a b Levine, Daniel S. (2017-04-03). "Joan Raftery, Bill's Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved 2024-04-05.
  31. ^ "Documentary on Bill Raftery, narrated by his son, to air on CBS". Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  32. ^ "Billy Raftery | Grant Hill | Point Road Productions". pointroadproductions. Retrieved 2024-04-05.