ESPN HistoryNCAAB

#TBT: March Madness

Top: Bob Ley (l) and Dick Vitale brought fans all the updates on the 1985 NCAA Tournament Tonight recap show, the first year the Men’s Championship expanded to 64 teams. (Rick Labranche/ESPN); Bottom: Rece Davis (l), Nell Fortner and Stacey Dales at the 2003 NCAA Division I Women’s Selection Special on ESPN (Rich Arden/ESPN)
Top: Host Bob Ley (l) and analyst Dick Vitale brought fans the latest news on the 1985 NCAA Tournament Tonight recap show, the first year the Men’s Championship expanded to 64 teams. (Rick Labranche/ESPN); Bottom: Host Rece Davis (l) and analysts Nell Fortner and Stacey Dales were at the helm of the 2003 NCAA Division I Women’s Selection Special on ESPN. (Rich Arden/ESPN)

Six months after ESPN went on the air, the network covered its first NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship in March 1980. With the network covering more than 20 NCAA championships from the three divisions, including 23 games of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, the month was dubbed, “March of Champions.”

Fast forward to 2003: ESPN was the first network to telecast all 63 games of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. When the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Championship starts tomorrow, it will mark the 12th consecutive year ESPN has covered the event in its entirety.

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