Media-Starved Programs Get Scores to the Masses with College Fanz Virtual Pressbox

By Carolyn Braff

For big-ticket sports programs at the nation’s top universities, national media outlets provide fans plenty of news updates on their teams’ progress. For lower revenue sports at those same universities, however – not to mention revenue programs at thousands of smaller schools – keeping track of a game day score can be a tough hunt. For schools linked into the College Fanz Sports Network, however, those scores will soon be as accessible as the big guys’.

With media-deprived programs in mind, College Fanz has created the Virtual Pressbox, a feature that allows a Sports Information Director (SID) responsible for any sport at any of the nation’s 1,348 Division I, II, III and NAIA programs to enter scoring information in real time. The SID has a secure log-in that provides access to his school’s site on the College Fanz Sports Network and leaves room for as much detail alongside the score updates as he or she has time to incorporate.

“All the day’s events come in automatically with the start time, so the whole scheduling process is automated,” explains Bill Rasmussen, founder of College Fanz Sports Network. “They can choose to update scores by quarter, halftime, by half-inning, by touchdown, whatever they choose.”

Rasmussen, better known as the founder of ESPN, rolled out the system at last week’s meeting of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), of which College Fanz is a major corporate partner. Hundreds of SIDs enrolled on-site.

“As one guy said, what’s not to like?” Rasmussen says. “It’s free and it gets their scores out everywhere. It’s about moving information faster and getting it to the consumer more quickly.”

The Pressbox tool is fully supported by advertising and sponsorships, so there are no partnership requirements or fees for any school that wants to utilize it.

“We’re going to offer that virtual press box feature as a separate sponsored segment,” Rasmussen adds. “It will be advertising supported, but mainly driven by sponsorship. Because of the construct of the site, we could sell all-women’s sports, all-men’s sports, all women’s scores and schedules – it’s divisible in many ways because it’s a database.”

The College Fanz network is powered by Jive Software and built and maintained by New York-based OpenCrowd.

While some larger schools already have their own in-game score trackers, Rasmussen designed the Virtual Pressbox with smaller programs in mind.

“Far and away, even the big schools don’t provide score trackers for the non-revenue sports and obviously the smaller schools don’t have the resources to do so,” Rasmussen explains. “This gives a new opportunity to every SID and we believe it’s one that’s been needed for a long time.”

In addition to providing information for fans, SIDs who utilize the Virtual Pressbox can help their counterparts at other schools, as well.

“In a smaller school’s press box, they don’t have all the out of town scores in progress,” Rasmussen says. “If they all update their scores on Virtual Pressbox, they could assign an intern to monitor the pages and be able to make announcements in the stadium to keep the crowd informed on what’s going on around the conference or in the area.”

The Virtual Pressbox is currently in ready for customization for all of the fall sports and by August 1, Rasmussen expects to have winter and spring events ready for scheduling.

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