Jim Nantz pays tribute to CBS colleague Billy Packer during Friday’s coverage of Farmers Insurance Open

The sports world lost a legend with the passing of longtime CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer, who passed away Thursday at age 82.

On Friday, during third round live coverage on CBS of the Farmers Insurance Open, Jim Nantz had some kind words for his friend and colleague, calling him “one of the most important figures in CBS Sports proud history.”

Nantz is calling the golf action in San Diego remotely from Kansas City. On Sunday, he’ll do play-by-play for the Chiefs’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game. But for 18 years he worked the NCAA Tournament, culminating in the Final Four, alongside Packer.

“Billy called 34 national championships before retiring in 2008. He was a true character. He was fearless in his commentary while deeply faithful to his friends and family,” Nantz said.

Packer worked the Final Four for NBC and CBS from 1975-2008.

Packer’s son Brandt, a producer at Golf Channel, posted a message of tribute to his father on Twitter on Thursday night.

Packer’s son Mark told the Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer joined CBS in 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament, and remained the network’s main analyst until 2008.

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

Golf Channel also paid tribute to Billy Packer during Friday’s pre-round coverage.

Jace Evans from USA TODAY Sports contributed to this article.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek