Ball State’s Sports Link To Produce Magazine Series for Fox College Sports

In what is being characterized as the first all-student-produced series offered by a national network, Fox College Sports (FCS) will carry 10 magazine-format shows created by Ball State University’s Sports Link program. Begun in 2008, Sports Link is an immersive study program for students in sports media and production.

According to Chris Taylor, instructor for telecommunications for sports media at Ball State, the agreement grew out of an initial FCS request for a segment to be included in the network’s series My Campus. Taylor, who runs the Sports Link program, suggested to FCS that “we could offer you a little more than just a package.” FCS reviewed work created over the past year and was “quite impressed and figured there might be a way we could provide more content, not just a package but entire programs.”

The agreement between FCS and Ball State calls for nine 30-minute magazine-style shows and a 10th program focusing on the school’s Homecoming week on campus. “Ninety-five percent [of the content] will feature Ball State student-athletes and coaches,” says Taylor.

Additional material will be culled from material that Sports Link creates for the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC). Last month, Ball State and the MAC announced an exclusive partnership under which Sports Link produces an on-going series of football highlights and feature packages.

The FCS shows will be shot on a new virtual set on the Ball State campus. The 2,400-sq.-ft. studio features a chroma key green backdrop using Orad’s ProSet virtual studio with HDVG, a high-definition graphics-rendering platform. Three Vinten Radamec manual encoded pedestals handle the camera work. Ultimatte blue/green-screen compositing hardware integrates studio talent with the virtual backgrounds.

Taylor stresses that the FCS shows are completely student-produced. For the series, two students serve as executive producer for the magazine shows. The Homecoming show will be executive-produced by another student. The Sports Link program has 19 students enrolled, earning varying levels of credits. For shoots that may require additional staffing, Taylor has a list of 124 students on campus “who have an interest in sports media and production. But, for the most part, it will be those 19 students in our class.”

The series is titled Be a Fan. “Be a Fan – of Ball State Athletics, of Ball State Sports Link, of Facebook,” says Taylor. “We’re trying to build our social media.”

Beyond the magazine series, Sports Link will produce a variety of live sports events using the school’s 40-ft. HD production truck: soccer starting in October, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball in the spring, along with gymnastics and swimming. All events will be aired on Fox College Sports either live or on tape-delay.

In addition to the TV productions, Sports Link students have developed an iPhone app for Sports Link that will launch in November. “And we’re working with our interactive-media folks on campus and doing the first iPad sports app for athletics,” Taylor adds. That app is expected to be released early next year.

Taylor credits department Chair Dr. Joe Misiewicz for being “tremendously supportive of what we are trying to do with Sports Link, as has everyone in our administration from our dean up to our president. They’ve given me the complete confidence to go out and try to do something like this.”

Though only in its second year, the Sports Link program has already been honored with an Emmy Award. Taylor says the goal of the program is “to be the best sports-media program in our state. Our [long-term] goal is to be a national leader in sports media, so people want to come to Ball State and go into sports media and production.”