Phi Delta Theta Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
Gary Bender grew up on a farm outside of Ulysses, Kansas, he was an All-State high school football player and won a football scholarship to Wichita State University. After graduation, he went to the University of Kansas, where he received a master’s degree in Radio-Television-Film. He later returned to Kansas to become the radio voice of the Jayhawks.
In 1969, he left the state to take a job as the television sports director of WKOW in Madison. During that time, he broadcast the University of Wisconsin football and basketball games. He was named the Voice of the Green Bay Packers in 1970. He added the Big Ten Basketball Game of the Week on TVS and television coverage of the Milwaukee Brewers to his schedule. Twice he was named the state’s Sports Broadcaster of the Year.
Bender began is network television broadcasting career with CBS in 1975, serving as a play-by-play announcer for the NFL, NBA, college football and basketball. During that time, he broadcast the Final Four from 1982-84, which included Michael Jordan’s game-winning shot as a freshman and the game known as “The Shot Heard Around the World”, as North Carolina State upset Houston at the buzzer. His NFL coverage included the “Hail Mary” game in 1975 as the Cowboys beat the Vikings on a Roger Staubach pass. Bender, during his 12 years at CBS, had the opportunity to broadcast twenty-seven different sports.
He left CBS in June of 1987 and joined ABC as a play-by-play announcer on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball. His assignments included coverage of college football and basketball as well as the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. While in Calgary he described the tragic falls of Dan Jansen in speed skating.
In 1991, Bender went to Turner Sports to serve as the lead announcer for TNT’s NFL Sunday Night Football and NBA Basketball. Since leaving Turner Sports he has broadcast the Phoenix Suns on TV the 17 seasons. Also, during that time he has been the voice of the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears.