ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale to take rest of season off in preparation for vocal surgery

College basketball analyst Dick Vitale will not return to ESPN's airwaves this season as he continues to rest his voice and prepares for surgery to treat dysplasia and ulcerated lesions of the vocal cords.

In a story posted to ESPN Front Row on Monday, Vitale wrote that he had a follow-up visit with Massachusetts General Hospital throat specialist Dr. Steven Zeitels and was advised to give his voice "an even longer 'T.O., Baby!'" in anticipation of undergoing surgery in the near term.

"While I'm heartbroken that I won't appear on ESPN for the rest of this season, I'm encouraged by the progress," Vitale said, noting that going on vocal rest the past three weeks reduced the inflammation in his throat by 60 percent.

Once the inflammation heals, a date will be set for surgery.

"My throat's condition is clearly moving in the right direction, and Dr. Z. is very optimistic that this can be successfully treated to have me strong for the 2022-23 season on ESPN," Vitale wrote.

Vitale had undergone cancer treatments last year.

"Dick Vitale is rightfully synonymous with college basketball, and his absence from the telecasts the rest of this season will leave an irreplaceable void. We at ESPN join the millions of fans who can't wait to have him back calling games from inside arenas whenever he is ready," said James Pitaro, chairman of ESPN and sports content for The Walt Disney Company.

In his post Monday, Vitale said he'll be "forever grateful" for the messages of encouragement from friends, fans, media members and colleagues, saying, "I love people, and I'm honored to receive such overwhelming support."

Vitale added: "I will continue to provide updates as I go along, and I am firm in my belief that I will win this battle and be back doing what I love -- calling games at courtside next season. In the meantime, I will enjoy all the great games from my living room and savor the love of my marvelous family. Thank you all."