Friday, June 22, 2018
Colleges

Schools upgrade broadcast facilities for SEC Network

When Georgia implemented a multimillion dollar upgrade to its television and digital operations this past year, school athletic officials thought they were just keeping up with the times. It turns out, they were getting a jump on what is about to become a necessary addition for many schools.

The new SEC Network is expected to bring in millions for the league, but there is much to be done between now and August 2014. While ESPN works to secure distribution rights for the network, many of the 14 member-schools will be spending millions in technological upgrades designed to meet the requirements to help satisfy a 24-hour cable network.

"For us all the in-house videos now, all the things from a production aspect are going to have to be produced on campus," first-year Tennessee football coach Butch Jones said. "We've been looking at adding a TV studio, but now that has to be expedited because of the SEC Network. And we have to have upgrades in our technology."

That's the story for many SEC schools. Over the next couple of months, ESPN will send operations teams out to conduct site visits to all SEC schools to examine everything from the control rooms to the connectivity of venues and where cameras are positioned.

The goal is to make sure every school, in cooperation with ESPN, has the capability to adequately produce live events and digital content to fill the SEC Network, which will feature about 450 events on television. Events include 45 live football games, 100 live men's basketball games, 60 live women's basketball games, 75 live baseball games and more than 250 live Olympic sports (soccer, volleyball, softball and gymnastics included).

"We're trying to get to a place where the schools become, in cooperation with us, an engine to produce content down to live events," said Justin Connolly, ESPN's senior vice president of college networks.

SEC schools will need to be able to provide additional digital programming for the network for streaming of events that are not airing on the television network. While some schools are in the process of getting their equipment up to par, others such as Florida and Georgia have already implemented the necessary changes. Georgia spent more than $2 million on upgrades.

"Last year we spent about $2.5 million upgrading our control room for all our scoreboards and our video operations," Bulldogs athletic director Greg McGarity said. "So we were ahead of the game. We've already made a lot of modifications internally that will fit in nicely. And really, we did a lot of work, and we didn't do it for that purpose. We really created a studio, and we do all of our shows out of there and everything. We've got the capability where we don't have to bring in any trucks to produce games, we just do it out of the one room and everything is fiber optic. We just take it straight from the football stadium, to baseball, softball, soccer. It just goes out there through that."

Florida, with the help of a private donation from longtime booster Bill Heavener, partnered with its journalism school to help ensure it had the necessary upgrades, even before the network's announcement. UF has fiber optic capability for the "vast majority" of its athletic facilities.

"We're good," athletic director Jeremy Foley said. "We just built a brand new video control room, including a bunch of new wiring and cable. I know our situation right now is good. And ESPN is going to do site visits and go to each institution to see what we need to do and how they can help us. They are coming to Gainesville sometime in July. Obviously those folks know what they are doing, and they will make sure the production facilities on each campus are what they need to be because this is going to be a big-time network. And what people see and how they perceive it is going to be very, very important."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

OMAHA, Neb. — JJ Schwarz hit a two-run homer and Florida built enough cushion to survive Texas Tech's six-run outburst over the seventh and eighth innings to eliminate the Red Raiders from the College World Series with a 9-6 win Thursday night....
Published: 06/22/18
Florida State will host Florida Gators to open this basketball season

Florida State will host Florida Gators to open this basketball season

For the first time in almost two decades, Florida and Florida State will open the men's basketball season against each other.The Seminoles will host UF on Nov. 6, both programs announced Wednesday morning. FSU has won four in a row in the series."Any...
Published: 06/20/18
With starting QB Josh Jackson’s status resolved, FSU will open against full-strength Hokies

With starting QB Josh Jackson’s status resolved, FSU will open against full-strength Hokies

Florida State's primetime opener against Virginia Tech looks a little tougher now than it did a few days ago.Hokies starting quarterback Josh Jackson has had his academic eligibility resolved and remains on the team, the Roanoke Times reported Tuesda...
Published: 06/19/18
As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

USF's expanded partnership with Yuengling — including naming rights to the Sun Dome — is only the latest part in an evolving relationship between college sports and alcohol, as my colleague, Joey Knight, wrote on the front page ...
Published: 06/18/18
Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

OMAHA, Neb. — Florida pitcher Brady Singer has won the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's player of the year.Singer, who received the award Friday, carries a 12-1 record and 2.30 ERA into the College World Series, which begins Saturday. T...
Published: 06/15/18
Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Rex Culpepper is back. The smile on his face said it all. The redshirt sophomore quarterback had his first full workout with Syracuse on Friday after overcoming testicular cancer. He said he broke down and cried when he was told he w...
Published: 06/15/18
Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

During his question-and-answer session with more than 500 Manatee-Sarasota boosters Monday evening, FSU's Willie Taggart was peppered with the normal inquiries about recruiting, offensive scheme and the Seminoles' quarterback derby.All well and good....
Published: 06/12/18
When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

It would have been easy — expected, even — for Willie Taggart to be nervous when he started in place of the injured Tommie Frazier as Manatee High's starting quarterback in 1991.Nope. Taggart wasn't, even though he was the first...
Published: 06/12/18
FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

SARASOTA — He slithered and scrambled his way into the local consciousness in the fall of 1991.Manatee High's Willie Taggart, 145 pounds in a sopping jersey, suddenly found himself with the keys to the Hurricanes' ruthlessly efficient opti...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18
Florida Gators add West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler

Florida Gators add West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler

Former West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler announced Monday that he plans to join the Gators as a graduate transfer.Shuler, a 6-foot-4, 268-pound Longwood native, started 10 games for the Mountaineers last season. As a redshirt sophomore, he ...
Published: 06/11/18