ESPN History

ESPN Remembers Irv Brown

One of ESPN's pioneers, Brown called myriad sports for the network; he also refereed six NCAA Final Fours, coached college sports, and reigned over Denver's sports talk airwaves

Analyst Irv Brown (L) and Jim Price called the 1983 College World Series.(Rudy Smith/ESPN Images)

Irv Brown, a staple of ESPN telecasts from the company’s beginning and throughout the 1980s as a commentator and analyst, died Sunday morning. He was 83.

He provided commentary to Jerry Gross’ play-by-play call on ESPN’s first college football telecast, the Sept. 8, 1979 Oregon at Colorado game that the fledgling network aired on one-day tape delay. ESPN launched Sept. 7, 1979.

Besides college football, Brown served as a commentator on a number of sports on ESPN during its first decade including NBA; college basketball and baseball; boxing, karate; billiards; bowling; and body building.

Brown’s careers extended beyond broadcasting.

The Denver native was a college basketball and baseball star at the University of Northern Colorado. He coached baseball at the University of Colorado (where he also coached freshman football) and Metro State. He also was an executive for various collegiate conferences and starred on Denver’s sports talk airwaves for decades until retiring in 2016.

Brown was a basketball referee from 1969-77. He officiated six NCAA Final Fours, including three UCLA title games. One of those UCLA games featured Bruins great and future ESPN analyst Bill Walton.

Terry Frei, a writer for the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune and a colleague of Brown’s on Denver radio shows, wrote this appreciation.

Here is a sampling of ESPN commentators paying tribute to Brown on social media:

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