With a Kiss: Fox Sports Hires Raftery As Lead Big East Analyst

Fox Sports has signed Bill Raftery to lead its analysis of Big East basketball games.

Raftery will team with play-by-play man Gus Johnson, when Fox Sports 1 tips off its Big East coverage this fall.

Bowing Aug. 17, national cable sports service Fox Sports 1 will televise over 100 Big East men’s regular-season basketball games during its freshman campaign. The non-conference schedule begins Friday, Nov. 8, the likely date of the first Johnson-Raftery assignment, according to Fox.

Raftery -- known for signature phrases “with the kiss” to describe bank shots and “onions” for players with moxie -- will continue in his role as analyst for CBS’s regular-season college basketball, as well as the NCAA tournament. His tenure at ESPN, though, is over.

Fox Sports 1 grabbed the rights to the reconstituted and hoops-centric Big East – featuring the so-called Catholic 7 of Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Depaul, Providence, Marquette and Seton Hall, where Raftery served as head coach from 1970 through 1981, as well as Xavier, Creighton and Butler – via a 12-year pact. Former WNBA chief Val Ackerman will serve as commissioner of the league, which will play an 18-game, round-robin regular season.

The old circuit has been renamed the American Athletic Conference after the split.

“I was fortunate to work at ESPN since its inception, and I’ll be forever grateful to all the talented, professional people who supported me along the way. I leave with nothing but terrific memories and friendships,” said Raftery.  “Today, though, we turn the page.  I’ve been associated with the Big East Conference since it began, and I feel the same excitement and anticipation now as I did way back then as the conference is re-born with Fox Sports.  I’m really looking forward to being reunited with my former CBS partner, Gus Johnson, whose style I love and passion for college basketball is unmatched.”