by Mia Summerson
Niagara Gazette — Fred Caso isn’t on the men’s basketball team at Niagara University, he isn’t the coach and he doesn’t keep the score, but to those who attend games at the Gallagher Center, he’s a big part of the game.
It all started over 30 years ago when Caso, who works as the vice president of community relations at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, filled in for the basketball announcer at the time. When the position became open again, Caso stepped in, and has been announcing games ever since.
“I just sort of fell into it,” he said recently. “It’s a really fun thing to do. You get a great seat at the game and you’re in the middle of the action. It’s fun to be a part of it.”
Caso has, in a way, become for NU basketball what Rick Jeannerret has become to the Sabres. People know him from his unique and enthusiastic pronunciation, specifically his over-pronunciation of the word “three” when someone makes a three-point shot.
“He’s been doing it for him so long,” said Derick Thornton, Niagara University’s assistant athletic director and community and special events director.
“Only once through my six years here, he couldn’t do a game. I had to get a back-up guy and it was fine, but people asked ‘Where’s Fred?’ People would definitely notice if he stopped announcing.”
The NU staff is just as happy to have Caso around as he is to be there. Thornton described him as a great, easy to talk to person, who is well known by team holders and players alike. Thornton said that the audience appreciates his consistency and the staff makes it easy for him to do his job.
“He brings an experience, that’s for sure,” Interim Director of Athletics Stephen Butler said of Caso. “He’s been a part of our family for so long, it's great to have him there calling the games, we couldn’t ask for better announcer, the dedication he has is outstanding.”
Even though Caso is part of the basketball family at Niagara University, he says he’s just as much a fan as anyone else. Despite wanting to see the Purple Eagles come out victorious on the court, Caso says that he has learned to keep it under control in order to announce the game objectively.
The 2013-2014 season has come to an end, but Caso says that he’ll be back next year, and every year after that as long as Niagara University invites him back.
“I always put the decision up to him,” Butler said. “We’d love to have him as long as he wants to be with us. He is a valued member of staff and I can’t imagine a game at the Gallagher Center without Fred.”