Winter is Dan Bonner’s busy season. As a color analyst for men’s college basketball, he will crisscross the country throughout the regular season, calling games night after night for several television outlets.
But the real thrill comes in March, when Bonner (Col ’75) will be in the thick of things, seated at the epicenter of the sports universe. That’s when he takes a courtside chair at a first-weekend site of the NCAA Tournament—the madhouse that is college basketball’s premier event.
“It’s a good madhouse,” says Bonner. “It’s fun—it’s the kind of thing someone in my line of work wants to do.”
Bonner played for Virginia from 1971 to 1975, then headed up the Cavaliers’ women’s basketball program for two seasons, where he met his wife, Terry, the team’s captain and most valuable player on the 1975-76 team. After leaving coaching, Bonner entered the broadcasting world as a radio color analyst in Charlottesville.
Once the NCAA brackets are selected and released, Bonner goes to work immediately, learning tidbits about the teams at his opening weekend site in order to provide America’s armchair point guards with as much information as humanly possible. After almost two decades at the event, Bonner is a veteran of the tournament’s grind and has mastered the strenuous preparation process.
“I don’t know that it gets easier, but you understand how to do it,” says Bonner. “I’ve done it 19 times now, and once you’ve done it you have a very thorough understanding of it.”
Bonner no longer coaches high school girls’ basketball when he’s not calling games because the Virginia High School League changed the season for the sport from fall to winter, so down time for Bonner is strictly down time.
During the offseason, you’ll likely find him visiting one of his three college-age children, or you’ll find him at home in quiet Staunton, completing a home improvement project.
“I’ve never been a big ‘bright lights, big city’ kind of guy,” says Bonner. “I’ve always been one of those do-it-yourself guys.”
Still, when March rolls around, Bonner is back, explaining a small conference squad’s fast-break style or an ACC juggernaut’s ability to feed its post players.
“I’m fortunate to have a job that I love,” says Bonner. “The reason I enjoy it so much is that I enjoy the whole atmosphere. As long as people want me to do it, I’ll keep doing it.”