Sports Asset Management Committee Profile: Scott Rinehart, Fighting Irish Digital Media

By Juliane Pettorossi, Editorial Assistant, SVG

Earlier this year, SVG launched the Sports Asset Management (SAM) Committee, dedicated to advancing the sports-media industry’s content-management and -storage capabilities and tools. This group, comprising asset-management leaders from each of the major U.S. professional leagues and college-sports entities, has spearheaded this year’s Sports Asset Management Forum (July 25 at the New York Hilton in Manhattan) and will contribute in-depth content to the upcoming online SVG Sports Asset Management Playbook (to be unveiled later this year). In advance of the Forum, SVG will profile the careers of all eight SAM Committee members.

Scott Rinehart, lead technologist, Fighting Irish Digital Media

Scott Rinehart, lead technologist, Fighting Irish Digital Media

Scott Rinehart was an ordinary 14-year-old kid living in Jacksonville, FL, when he developed his first craving for TV technology. His Sunday-school teacher, Carl Voelcker, was a reporter at local NBC affiliate WTLV. He invited Rinehart to tag along one day while he shot, edited, and covered a local news story. The young Rinehart watched Voelcker turn raw footage and random bits of information into something that people could comprehend and appreciate. At this point, he wasn’t just interested in film and reporting; he was completely hooked.

Today, Rinehart is lead technologist at Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish Digital Media.

At the age of 15, he joined the team at WTLV and, during his high school years at The Bolles School, mixed his love for technology and sports by adding student trainer to his résumé. “I always wanted to remain involved in sports at some level,” he says.

After high school, Rinehart attended the University of Alabama, receiving a B.A. in communication studies. He also continued his interest in sports, working as a student trainer for university athletic teams, keeping one foot in the world of technology and the other in sports.

Graduating in 1984, he was eager to pursue a career in television and subsequently found work at stations WTLV, WTWC, and KTBS and Florida Production Center. In 1990, he interviewed at PGA TOUR Productions and was offered a job running the PGA Tour Library.

“I wasn’t sure exactly what the job was when they offered,” he says, “but I said, Absolutely. I wanted to give it a try.”

Rinehart took the job as manager of library operations and found his love for organization: he discovered that he enjoyed cataloging, describing things, and keeping them available for people to use. “I kind of just understood what people were looking for.”

In 10 years at PGA TOUR Productions, he started building up its video library, creating new successes for the company.

As it happened, NASCAR Media Group was realizing the value of its video assets, and its executives stopped by the PGA TOUR Productions offices, saw Rinehart’s work, and asked him to join their company. He accepted the offer and served as director of internal operations for almost 10 years.

In June 2010, Rinehart met representatives from the University of Notre Dame at an SVG event, where they discussed Notre Dame’s challenges in digital media.

“They started talking about what they were going to do,” he recalls, “and I thought, That’s pretty exciting.”

A year and a half later, he moved to South Bend, IN, and began building the Notre Dame facilities from scratch.

“The challenge here is, it’s not just about athletics and the teams playing each other,” he says. “We have to think beyond athletics and how to extend to the whole university.”

For Rinehart, the challenge is in integrating athletics and academics: at Notre Dame, what is built within athletics needs to be usable and beneficial for the rest of the university.

As far as where the technology industry is headed, Rinehart’s main concern today deals with file formats. In the past, ¾-in. tape migrated to Betacam, which would be around for years. Today, however, codecs evolve rapidly.

In addition to figuring out how to stay on top of the rapid growth of technology, Rinehart serves as an advisory board member to the Sports Video Group and SpectraLogic Advisory Council. Throughout his career, he has won many awards, such as the 2008 Computerworld’s Best Practices in Storage Award.

“It was nice to be recognized since technology people tend to toil in the background,” he says. “We were up against global companies with a lot more money than we were spending, and we innovated really nicely. It was fun to win that.”

Throughout his career, Rinehart’s family has always understood that he does not work a typical 9-5 job. Even early on, he often was required to work odd hours, holidays, and weekends.

“I’m lucky that my family has understood when I’ve had to work,” he says. “And they have stuck in there with me through all of this craziness.”

Although Rinehart also enjoys playing golf, it is tough for him to take a few hours there when he would rather spend time with his wife, Karen, and children, Morgan and Melanie.

While his two previous jobs had a single-sport focus, the 26 varsity teams that he deals with at Notre Dame have brought him something new and exciting.

“It’s always stimulating to go to different events and learn how people communicate and share information about the sport they enjoy so much,” he says, “Then, our job is to develop the asset-management language so a wide variety of people can find what they’re looking for.”

Rinehart’s favorite sport? Unquestionably, college football. He loves the energy in the atmosphere from the time the fans show up on Thursday to the kickoff on Saturday afternoon.

“At the professional level, it’s a job,” he points out. “At the college level, it’s a passion.”

At Fighting Irish Digital Media, Rinehart plans to extend the vision of the athletic department into other areas of the university: “Digital files are everywhere, and the challenges to solve are never-ending.”