Dan Hicks, Arizona ’84, has experienced a phenomenal rise from local radio announcer to one of network television’s most respected sports journalists. His first professional reporting job in his hometown of Tucson was part time and paid just $5 an hour. Today, he’s recognized by many as the voice of NBC’s PGA coverage. He’s called everything from NFL and NBA games to the French Open to the Ironman Triathlon. And as one of NBC’s lead Olympic analysts, he’s become a poolside fixture along with Michael Phelps.
Focus and determination have been key factors in Hicks’ meteoric reporting career. He landed his first amateur gig thanks to a SigEp brother’s tip that the Arizona Wildcats were looking for a new announcer at the women’s basketball games. He was hooked. Despite seeing his chapter brothers pursue more immediately lucrative careers, Hicks was set on sports journalism.
“I had more than a couple of people say, ‘You’re going to be a sports announcer? You’re really going to do this?’” Hicks shared with a 2017 Conclave audience after receiving SigEp’s Citation award. “I said, ‘Yeah, I really do believe — and I don’t necessarily care what level I get to — that this is going to satisfy the passion that
I have for sports.’
“Once I realized I wasn’t going to be shortstop for the New York Yankees, I had to find another way to get involved with sports and have the best seat in the house,” Hicks said. “I feel like I’ve never truly worked a day in my life.”
When he landed his first professional gig reporting at a couple of Tucson radio stations, they only covered news. However, it wasn’t long before a determined Hicks convinced his managers to cover sports.
When an on-camera, weekend sportscaster position opened up at Tucson’s NBC affiliate, Hicks jumped at the opportunity. Though the station’s news director wasn’t immediately convinced Hicks was ready for the role, Hicks’ talent and powers of persuasion won him the job.
A few years later, at just 26, Hicks was tapped to join the team covering sports at CNN. For the next three years, he served as the weekend host of “CNN Sports Tonight” while also hosting the cable network’s college football and basketball preview shows.
His professionalism, wit and ease on camera got Hicks noticed by NBC Sports. When he was hired by the network as a play-by-play announcer in 1992, Hicks fulfilled one of his biggest childhood dreams.
In his 25 years with NBC, Hicks has called just about every televised sport and established himself as the go-to commentator for some of the most widely watched events. He has been part of 11 Olympic broadcasts and has called some of the most memorable moments in U.S. Olympic swimming. At the winter games, he’s covered speed skating and alpine skiing.
Still, Hicks will probably always be most widely recognized for his work as a golf analyst. Since first hosting the U.S. Open in 1992, his insightful commentary and analysis of player strategy have made him a favorite of golf fans. His most prominent role has been co-hosting NBC’s PGA coverage with former U.S. Open and British Open champ Johnny Miller. From their perch in the tower on the 18th hole, Hicks and Miller have spent 18 seasons developing one of the best-loved announcing partnerships in sports.
For four years, Hicks also successfully balanced the green with the gridiron. During his early years with NBC, he called more than 50 NFL matchups, and he had missed the thrill of the game ever since. Hicks realized his goal to return to the sport when he was named the new voice of Notre Dame football in 2013.
Today, Hicks is a member of an elite class of sports journalists. His prolific body of work has garnered many accolades, including two Emmy nominations. But at his heart, he’s still the same guy who enjoyed participating in intramurals and socializing with his SigEp brothers.
As an undergraduate at Arizona, Hicks served on several chapter committees and led as a recruitment chairman. Now his accomplishments are inspiring a new generation of SigEps. That’s an honor that holds special meaning for him.
“As I go on in my career since SigEp, one of my lifetime missions is to always have time for young people,” Hicks said. “We call it reaching down the ladder and bringing them up.”