Students Are Key to Sun Belt Conference Web Coverage

By John Rice

The Sun Belt Conference wrapped up its athletic season this past weekend with the Men’s Baseball Championship. The final game was broadcast on regional cable stations, but Sun Belt fans had the opportunity to catch all the games of the series via live Webcasts on SBC Extra on the conference’s Website.

The online baseball coverage follows similar tournaments provided online this season, including softball, soccer, volleyball, and basketball. Each tournament is available for $9.95, while other events — cross-country, indoor track, swimming and diving — as well as interviews and highlight packages are free for on-demand viewing.

What is unusual about the Sun Belt coverage is that all events are completely staffed by students, from camera operation to engineering support to play-by-play announcing.

Says Travis Llewellyn, conference assistant commissioner for electronic media, “We all got started in this because it’s something that we love and wanted to do in college.” Of the plan to use students for the Webcasts, he says, “if we are able to encourage that and get [students] involved in sports broadcasting, it can only be beneficial in the future.”

Sun Belt, which used to offer single-camera Web views, began three-camera Webcasts in November 2007 with its soccer championships. Using NewTek’s TriCaster Pro, the conference expanded coverage in the 2008-09 season to five championship events.

“The expansion in the past year and a half has been going to [multiple] cameras,” he says. “We said, ‘Let’s go all out, make this big time. It’s the championship. Let’s do the best job we can.’”

Llewellyn is looking to enhance coverage for the ’09-10 season with “more personalization in graphics and [to] step it up in replay.” The goal, he says is “to make this TV-quality.”

He points out that his role in the student-run productions is supervisory, with students handling all aspects of the Webcasts. “At the end of the day,” he says, “it’s worth it to our student-athletes and our fans.”

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