Oklahoma State Students Get Head Start In Sports

By Carolyn Braff

College-bound sports fans in Stillwater, OK, no longer have to spend four undergraduate years waiting for their careers to begin. Oklahoma State University’s sports media degree program offers motivated sports fans a B.A. or B.S. in one of three media specialties – broadcasting, journalism or public relations and promotion – graduating a workforce with production experience well beyond its years.

OSU’s program incorporates hands-on training with traditional classroom study, putting students to work during the school year in anticipation of continuing that work after graduation. As a Big 12 member school, broadcast networks consistently roll through campus with opportunities for students to get involved, but having professors with decades of sports industry experience is an even bigger asset.

“One of the reasons we originally thought we could do this is because we had so much strength in sports on the faculty,” explains Tom Weir, director of the OSU School of Journalism and Broadcasting. “We try to incorporate as many people from the professional community as we can to supplement, but having that sports experience on our faculty made it much easier to get this program started.”

Marc Krein, who teaches sports media production, has spent seven years as an editor and EVS operator. OSU students benefit from his experience every time they sit down at one of the school’s two EVS systems, which Krein recommended for purchase and teaches students to use.

“I’ve been working in the trucks for many, many years, so I know what’s required to pull off a multi-camera live event,” Krein says. “Every time we made an equipment purchase it was keeping in mind that we were going to do multi-camera events and train students to be able to work in the industry.”

Krein equipped OSU’s fly pack to enable his students to produce four-camera shoots with replay and graphics. The pack’s equipment includes a Grass Valley audio-video mixer, Sony LCD monitors, Kramer switcher, Mackie audio mixer, Sennheiser microphones, Datavideo CG-100 character generator software, six Sony cameras,four-channel EVS with multicam application and four-channel EVS with replay application.

All of the productions are streamed through the athletic department’s Cowboy MVP service, as well as shown on a tape delay on local television stations. Krein accepts input from his students as to which events to produce, but the final say is his own, which he articulates in a twice-weekly planning meeting.

“I treat that as a business meeting,” Krein says. “We develop bumpers, teases, opens and all the elements that go into a show, then we find what day the teams are playing. We have three hours a week allotted for actual production.”

In addition to providing access to EVS systems and character generator software, Oklahoma State ensures that its students graduate with a knowledge base that goes beyond equipment operation.

“We teach a lot of management stuff that most colleges don’t know because they haven’t been inside the truck, they haven’t gotten a site survey and haven’t dealt with crewers,” Krein explains. “We tear into the whole production, which is exciting for kids.”

Although many institutions offer minor or certificate programs in sports media, Oklahoma State is one of only a handful of colleges that offers a major in sports production, which accounts for the recent population swell in Stillwater.

“We have been able to attract people for this major that have been signed up to go to other schools,” Weir says, “and when they found out about this, they changed their minds immediately.”

An application is required to be considered for the sports media degree, but any student can take advantage of the program’s benefits by joining the sports media club.

“Any student can be part of that club from the moment they arrive on campus,” Krein explains. “They have some unique opportunities to meet people and get some real experience before they even get to a broadcast course.”