CSVS Q&A: Jack Swarbrick, Director of Athletics, University of Notre Dame

The College Sports Video Summit (CSVS), to be held June 9-10 in Atlanta, has gained enormous traction in the college and university community. With the Summit just two weeks away, anticipation is building as college and university video professionals look forward to meeting with their conference, television, and online partners. Jack Swarbrick, director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame, will be attending the Summit and spent a few minutes with SVG to discuss what he expects to gain from the inaugural event.

What do you hope to get out of attending the College Sports Video Summit?

In my job, I think devoting time to issues relating to media and new media is among my highest priorities. Staying current, knowing what other people are doing and what the trends are is critical. I’ve done a lot of television and media work over the years, so I want to make sure I’m staying current.

The other key is to get to know people who work in the area, to have more people that you know and can talk to, and have more resources as you contemplate new initiatives.

How is the role of video changing the college-sports landscape?

I think it is the core need to have a good production function. Video started with maybe producing some stuff for video boards, and then you’re producing stuff for the streaming of events, and now you’re producing content for wider forms of broadcast. There’s just more of it, and you have to do it better than the point from which I think we all started.

My interest is in strategies for production, cost models, the things that are more related to the development and management of the production function. I think there’s a great need for an event like this because video is an area that’s moving so quickly and the expectations of our customers are becoming more and more sophisticated.

How do you cater to that customer, which is split between young students and alumni of all ages?

I don’t think about it in those terms; I think about it as those who consume our product at any level. That might be an alumnus, it might be a student, it might be a journalist, it might be somebody who’s just curious to see what’s going on. We don’t segment it so much as we try to understand all facets of the audience and make sure we’re programming to that audience.

How has the current economic climate affected the growth of college-sports video?

We’re a school that doesn’t have video boards — that’s part of the tradition of the place — so we’re at a little bit of a different position than some. But what I think the economy does is, it places a premium on building partnerships. In the university context, that means partnering with other aspects of the university.

I think it’s a mistake to contemplate or build these capabilities as sport capabilities. They’ll serve an athletics function, but they reach their full potential when they serve the broader interests of the university as well.

We try to make sure that we’re working very much hand-in-hand with other aspects of the university that have similar issues. Universities have enormous needs today related to distance learning, digital archiving — all things that touch on the same things we’re focused on. So the question is, as a university, can you find ways to create some synergy across the various elements of the university to do things more effectively or efficiently?

We’ve got a great information-technology office here, and they’re going to be more knowledgeable about digital archiving than I should be, so I’m going to rely on them for that aspect of what we do, to be our experts. I’m probably going to be more advanced than other aspects of the university at the production function, so presumably they’ll lean on me for that.

To join Swarbrick and dozens of other college and university video professionals at the inaugural College Sports Video Summit, visit www.csvsummit.com.

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