Bill Roth, right, with former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden at Wooden’s Encino home. “Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Coach Wooden,” Roth said. “The experience was second to none, and little did I know that a few years later, I would have the privilege of getting behind the microphone for the team he so dearly loved.” (Photo from www.billroth.us)
Bill Roth, who spent the last 27 seasons calling football and basketball at Virginia Tech, emerged as the new hiring for UCLA’s radio voice position, the school announced Wednesday morning.
The Pittsburgh native and Syracuse University graduate (Class of ’87) comes with the endorsement of IMG College, the North Carolina-based company that has the multimedia rights for UCLA, as well as Virginia Tech.
Roth replaces Chris Roberts, who called Bruins football and basketball on the radio for the previous 23 seasons.
“I am tremendously grateful, honored and humbled to be named the new ‘Voice of the Bruins,’” said Roth in a statement. “I have tremendous respect for the UCLA tradition, having grown up sitting in front of the television in awe of national broadcasts featuring UCLA teams playing at historic venues like Pauley Pavilion and the Rose Bowl. …
“Words cannot express how excited I am to be joining the Bruin family. To be part of college sports’ most accomplished athletic program is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I cannot wait to be part of the next chapter of UCLA’s storied history.”
In a statement released through Virginia Tech, Roth said it “has been such an incredibly difficult and emotional decision to leave. I love Virginia Tech … We’ve been through so much together …
“Professionally, this is a phenomenal opportunity to work at another prestigious and championship-level program. … I am extremely excited about the challenge to work in the nation’s second-largest media market and to live in a true global city, Los Angeles. Personally, I have a dozen family members who live within an hour of Pauley Pavilion. I’m eager to see them on a consistent basis. Being close to my family was a major part of this decision.”
Roth, who arrived at Virginia Tech at age 22 and a year removed from Syracuse, will remain at Virginia Tech to call its spring football game on Saturday. UCLA also has its “spring showcase” game at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
His first game will be when UCLA opens its football season at the Rose Bowl against the University of Virginia on Sept. 5.
Marv Albert, left, poses with Bill Roth during a Virginia Broadcaster of the Year presentation.
“It’s not every day that you’re able to add a Hall-of-Famer to your program,” said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, a reference to Roth’s membership in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Syracuse’s famous WAER Hall of Fame.
“Bill is as accomplished of a broadcaster as there is in this country, and we could not be more excited to have him put his stamp on UCLA games. I know our fans will appreciate Bill’s unique ability to paint a picture of the action with his words and, when everything is said and done, expect that Bill will more than live up to the legacy set forth by the many great UCLA broadcasters that have come before.”
Said Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock: “While we are certainly sad to see Bill depart from Virginia Tech, we are sincerely happy for him and his family for this new opportunity. Bill forever will be a Hokie, no matter where he works, and we thank him for his tremendous service, professionalism and friendship. He has been such a beloved part of the brand and the fabric of Virginia Tech. He will certainly be missed. We will honor Bill and his 27 years of service by creating an endowed scholarship in his name.”
Roth is also an 11-time Virginia Sportscaster of the Year, as voted on by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. He has also called games for the Richmond Braves (the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A affiliate) and ESPN on NCAA baseball, lacrosse and kickboxing.
Roberts called his last game for UCLA on March 27, the Bruins’ loss to Gonzaga in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Sources had indicated that front-runners for his replacement were San Diego Chargers’ play-by-play man Josh Lewin and former Fox NFL and Bruins defensive back Ron Pitts.
== A sampling of Bill Roth’s work at www.billroth.us