Sports Commentator Jim Nantz 

By Steven Miller

Jim Nantz is recognized as a major voice for the sports world and the University of Houston family. A multi-Emmy-award winner, he was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and the Pro Football and Naismith Memorial Basketball Halls of Fame. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters and the Distinguished Alumni Award from UH. Photo courtesy of UH Athletics. 

Jim Nantz was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and relocated multiple times as a young boy. He went to high school in New Jersey prior to attending the University of Houston (UH) where he was recruited as a member of the golf team. Shortly after graduating in 1981 with a degree in radio and television broadcasting, he got his first opportunity with Houston’s CBS affiliate, KHOU 11, where he did studio work covering local sports. Then, he became an anchor at KSL-TV in Salt Lake City. While in Utah, he also broadcast Utah Jazz basketball games and did play-by-play with Steve Young for Brigham Young University football games. In 1985, the national CBS Network offered him a job, and he has been there ever since, covering golf, the National Football League (NFL), and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Basketball Tournament. He has called six Super Bowls, thirty-eight Masters’ tournaments, and thirty-seven NCAA basketball tournaments, with his final one taking place in 2023. Nantz is a proud Houston Cougar and now resides in Tennessee and California.  

In November 2022, UH history student and sports enthusiast Steven Miller had a dream come true when Jim Nantz agreed to be interviewed for the 100 Years of Stories: Documenting a Century at the University of Houston project. The two discussed Nantz’s time at UH, how it molded him into a successful sports broadcaster, the Cougar basketball program, and UH Athletics’ move to the Big 12 Conference.

Steven Miller: What led you to the University of Houston and how would you describe your time there? 

Jim Nantz: I came to the University of Houston in the fall of 1977. I was introduced to the school by a former famous golfer who played on national championship teams for the legendary coach, Dave Williams. His name was Ron Weber. …  He made a phone call and said, “I think you should take a look at this kid. He’s got some game, but what he really wants to do is to come to school to study sports broadcasting.” The next day Coach Williams watched me play nine holes … and said, “Jimbo, I would love you to be a Houston Cougar.” It set in motion the application process and changed my plans. I was going to the University of Texas, and one of the great gifts of my life was for me to end up going to Houston. It had a profound impact on everything in my life to this day. 

While still a student, Jim Nantz hosted Coach Guy V. Lewis’s show on Houston’s NBC affiliate, KPRC on channel 2.  Photo courtesy of UH Athletics. 

SM: Can you tell me your favorite memory? 

JN: I wasn’t a guy that contributed to the golf team in terms of their standard of excellence. I was the worst player on the team, [but] … I received the opportunity to be a part of that team, to be around a group of winners, successful people, competitors, [and] accomplished people. Coach put me in a dorm room with some of my fellow classmates and some lifelong friendships were forged there.  

I was around a group of people that exuded positivity, were achievers, and fed off one another. If someone like Fred Couples, my roommate, said he hoped to win the Masters, I was there to say, “I don’t see why it can’t happen. You’ve got the game that is suited for that course. You have the passion, the desire, [and] the ability.” In 1992, he won the Masters. If I was to say that I wanted to work for CBS one day, … which I said quite often, my teammates and friends made me feel like that was completely attainable and believable. They helped me get there. My goal was to one day broadcast the Masters, the NFL, and the Super Bowl, and all those dreams have come true. They wouldn’t have if I wasn’t at the University of Houston around people that were positive, supportive, and emboldening me to maximize my abilities. 

Jim Nantz meets with legendary UH head coaches. Left to right: Rolan Walton, former baseball player (1947-1951) and coach (1975-1986); David Williams, men’s golf coach (1952-1987); Jim Nantz; Bill Yeoman, football coach (1962-1986); and Guy V. Lewis, former player (1946-48) and men’s basketball coach (1956-1986).  Photo courtesy of UH Athletics. 

SM: It sounds like you were with some influential people. You said that you always wanted to be a part of sports broadcasting. Where did you get that passion? 

JN: … For me, it was watching sports events at home, listening to the voices of my youth, and just [being] completely awestruck at their ability to tell a story and take me places I could only dream of visiting. … They made the world feel like it was small and that people from different cultures were so similar to ours. … Live television in my youth was different from live television today. … Back in my days as a young boy growing up and even in my college years, the world seemed like a very spacious and faraway place. Your ability to be able to see it all sounded a bit far-fetched, but I had people at Houston who supported what I was thinking. They were all in on what I wanted, and they helped me get there.

To read the full article, click here, or click on Buy Magazines above to order a print copy.

Click here to watch Jim Nantz’s announcer’s jinx call on Thanksgiving 2022

Click here to read about Jim Nantz’s connection to Houston and calling his last NCAA tournament Final Four.

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