Woman to Call NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament—for First Time Since 1995

A woman has been tapped to take the mic during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness, for the first time in more than two decades.

Debbie Antonelli, a sports analyst and sideline reporter for 29 years, will serve as a CBS Sports analyst for two rounds of the tournament, which begins tomorrow with the first four matchups.

According to The New York Times, Antonelli will be the first woman to work on the NCAA men's tournament broadcast since Ann Meyers Drysdale in 1995.

Times sports writer Juliet Macur asked Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, why it's taken more than 20 years to see a woman analyst at the NCAA men's basketball tournament:

"I don’t really know the answer to that question, except probably it was easy to keep assigning the cast of regulars to the tournament. It just wasn’t on our radar screen."

—Sean McManus

Antonelli, meanwhile, says she knows her role comes with pressure to succeed, not only for herself, but women in sports broadcasting who follow her.

"There’s no margin for error if you hear a woman’s voice during a broadcast. If you make a mistake, they’ll say, 'It figures.' And they will blame it on me being a woman."

—Debbie Antonelli

In other NCAA men's basketball news, Northwestern University* enters the tournament for the first time in its history.

(*Editor's note: This particular Spring.St writer is also a completely biased alumnus.)

H/t: The New York Times