Fox Sports, SVG, Bexel and others launch SVG University to expose students to industry

Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte and the NASCAR Coca Cola 600 and Fox Sports played host to the newest industry initiative undertaken by the Sports Video Group and its member and sponsor partners: exposing college students to the world of sports broadcasting and engineering.

“From day one all of our members and even some of our sponsors have made it clear that finding the next-generation of sports broadcast and technology professionals is a priority,” says Ken Kerschbaumer, SVG editorial director. “This is a major step in that direction.”

The day-long event took place on May 24 and allowed 25 college students from Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Appalachian State and other schools to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the massive NASCAR broadcast compound that is home to Fox Sports, ESPN, Speed, DirecTV, and NASCAR Images and features production trucks from NEP, Game Creek and others.

The program was the brainchild of Jerry Steinberg, Fox Sports VP of field operations. Because there were two NASCAR races on two successive weeks at the same location there was plenty of time to bring in students in a relaxed environment. Steinberg reached out to Game Creek President Pat Sullivan, a Boston College alum and Wake Forest parent, who in turn reached out to Wake Forest to gauge interest.

Michael Davies, Fox Sports director of field operations, put together the intensive program that was highlighted by a complete tour of the broadcast compound, including the trucks used by Fox Sports, ESPN, NASCAR Images, Sportvision, and DirecTV Hot Pass.

“Fox Sports has always been a strong advocate of students being our future,” says Davies. “And the more students we can affect and expose to the industry the better off this industry will be in terms of finding new people to do the jobs tomorrow.”

Along with in-depth tours of the trucks the students also had the opportunity to speak directly with some of the industry’s top graphics, audio, and replay professionals. Frank Trizano of Trizano Technologies, who designed the production truck and technology behind DirecTV’s HotPass subscription service, says giving students a view inside sports broadcast compounds is important.

“Outsiders never get a chance to see what goes on here,” he says. “We put a fence around the compound and a cover over it so they can’t even see in. But once they see what it is that we do they get interested. But if we keep them out behind the fence they’ll never be a replacements for us.”

Students also had a chance for hands-on EVS training as Bexel brought in rental equipment for the students to use. Robert Nudo, one of Bexel’s two VP’s and Chief Marketing Officer, was on hand. “This is a great experience for the students and we are very pleased to be a part of it,” he says. “I could see it in their faces: they were seeing behind-the-scenes tools and technologies that could surely guide their future career choices.”

The Sports Video Group says it will explore other educational opportunities with its members and sponsors. “The wide array of TV productions that take place at college campuses provide a strong bedrock that can serve as the foundation for a program that can get students excited about the industry,” says Kerschbaumer.

Kerschbaumer acknowledged that simply exposing students isn’t enough. That’s one reason the Sports Video Group will build a special section on its Web site where students who attend the programs and are interested in either an internship or career can post their resume and search for available internships from SVG members and sponsors.

“The SVG Web site is the perfect place for students and sports technology professionals to meet and share resources,” adds Kerschbaumer.