WCCO Radio (AM 830), knocked from its perch over the years as the dominant voice for play-by-play sports coverage in the Upper Midwest, announced Wednesday that it will broadcast University of St. Thomas Division III football for the next two seasons.
Calling the action will be Dave Lee, who had been the Minnesota Gophers' play-by-play announcer until their move to KFAN (AM 1130) was announced in March. Former Viking Joe Senser will be next to Lee as a color analyst.
The station's dwindling hold on play-by-play coverage of college and professional sports had left it with one team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are migrating from KFAN after this past season.
Two months ago, numerous Gophers sports left WCCO, their radio home for more than 50 years. Football went to KFAN. Men's and women's basketball, along with men's hockey, moved to 1500ESPN.
The Twins left WCCO for 1500ESPN in 2007. The Vikings also were once on WCCO, but are now on KFAN. The Wild left WCCO after this season and are on KFAN.
"WCCO's tradition of Saturday afternoon football broadcasts will continue with St. Thomas's rich history of athletic success and their traditional rivalries in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC)," WCCO Senior Vice President Mick Anselmo said in a statement.
St. Thomas lists its enrollment at just under 11,000 students. Its football stadium seats 5,000. The Athletic Department, which only estimates its attendance, said home games drew anywhere from 1,500 to 4,000 last season as the Tommies rolled to a 12-1 record and a conference championship.
"For many Minnesotans, WCCO is the voice of college football in this state," said head coach Glenn Caruso. "We're ecstatic about this partnership and to have the Tommies affiliated with a media institution like WCCO."
Last December, WCCO broadcast a Division III game for the first time, a St. Thomas playoff contest.
The first broadcast next season will be Sept. 3, a nonconference game at St. Norbert College of DePere, Wis.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482