Doris Burke, a name synonymous with women’s college basketball, has announced that she is leaving the women’s game behind.
When you watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, things don’t really seem right until you hear the voice of broadcasting legend Verne Lundquist. He is as much a part of March Madness as the basketball itself and without him, it just wouldn’t feel the same.
The same can be said of Doris Burke. Burke has been a constant presence at the Women’s Final Four since 2003 and a part of women’s basketball in general since 1990. She has been the lead analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the WNBA since 1997 and has also worked in the NBA. Burke was the first woman to do color commentary for a New York Knicks game in 2000 and has been a sideline reporter for the NBA Finals since 2009.
It has been quite an illustrious career, one that would be the envy of almost anyone in the field.
Now part of it is coming to an end.
On Monday, a day after watching the South Carolina Gamecocks defeat the Mississippi State Bulldogs for their first national championship, Burke announced she is going to leave covering the women’s game behind. She will be focusing her energies exclusively on the NBA and the men’s college game.
While Burke doesn’t give a reason for her decision, in her farewell she makes it clear that while she loves the women’s game, she feels it is time to move on.
“For the last several years, for many reasons, at this time of year, I am convinced I have worked the Women’s Final Four for the last time. It is my feelings for the people on the event and my love for the game that kept me coming back. But it is time.”
If Burke was going to choose a year to call it a day covering women’s basketball, she couldn’t have picked a better one if she tried. The 2017 edition of the women’s tournament was one for the ages with a first-time national champion and the end of UConn’s amazing winning streak, which Burke handled with her usual professionalism and style.
Doris Burke's reaction to Morgan William' buzzer-beater for the win. 😂 pic.twitter.com/AcPftRP4YG
— espnW (@espnW) April 2, 2017
Finding someone to replace Burke and what she brings to the table will be a herculean task and one ESPN should not take lightly.
Thanks to YouTube, we will be able to hear Burke doing play by play for women’s college hoops for decades to come. But next March, when it comes time to sit down and watch the Final Four, something is going to feel very off.
If you have a chance, make sure you thank Doris Burke for all the memories. She has been the voice of women’s basketball forever and she will be greatly missed.
If you want to hear more from Doris Burke and her decision to leave the women’s game, our own David Spiegel spoke to Burke in the latest episode of his Dishin and Swishin podcast. Worth a listen for any women’s hoops fan.