Ball State University’s Chris Taylor Named 2017 Recipient of SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award

Taylor, a former sports information director, launched Ball State Sports Link in 2009

The Sports Video Group is pleased to announce that Chris Taylor, senior director, digital sports production, and lecturer at Ball State University, will be honored with the 2017 SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award.

He will be celebrated at this year’s SVG College Sports Summit at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta on June 2.

The SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award celebrates those who have innovated in the fields of video production and technology at the university level and have advanced the industry at large.

Taylor is in his seventh year as a lecturer in the Telecommunications Department and leads its digital sports-production and immersion efforts. He founded Ball State Sports Link, the nation’s first fully immersive sports-production program, in 2009 following a successful pilot program that ran before his return to campus following a short hiatus. Sports Link has trained countless students who have gone on to work in the industry and radically redefined the content-creation relationship between athletics and academics.

“The work Chris Taylor has done at Ball State Sports Link embodies the true spirit of the Pioneer Award,” says Ken Kerschbaumer, co-executive director, editorial services, SVG. “He has blazed a trail with an immersive educational program that is second to none in the opportunities it gives students to develop real-world skills in real-world environments.”

In 2015, Taylor was promoted from instructor to lecturer at Ball State, while also moving to senior director of digital sports production. The academic concentration on digital sports production is the first of its kind by any college or university in the nation.

“Chris Taylor exemplifies what we were looking for in a leader for Ball State Sports Link,” says Tim Pollard, chair of the Department of Telecommunications. “Integrity. High ethical standards. Someone who can set an example for his students. That’s the key with Chris: it’s about the students. That’s why he’s good at what he does.”

Since 2009, Taylor’s students in Ball State Sports Link have garnered more than 75 state or national awards for sports production, including 18 Emmy nominations (11 wins) and 25 SVG Best of College Sports Media nominations (seven wins). His students have won 28 Indiana Association of School Broadcasters first-place awards and eight Broadcast Education Association Best in the Nation honors and two Best of Festival awards from all entry genres.

“When I first saw my name even among the nominees, I was shocked,” says Taylor. “But then to get the phone call to tell me I had won, I was as close to speechless as you will ever find me. Since I started my career in sports, I’ve kept a note on or near my desk which reads, ‘Remember why you are in it.’  For me, the why has always been the student-athletes. Now, after seven years in academics, it’s about the students and the student-athletes we work with. Those are the ones who I truly share this award with, for believing in what we were doing.”

Chris Taylor (center) has given students real-world learning experience since the launch of Ball State Sports Link in 2009.

Under his direction, Ball State Sports Link students have received a wealth of opportunities off campus as well. Taylor has developed an ongoing partnership with the NCAA, allowing students work with its digital team at the Final Four, and with Turner Sports, allowing Ball State students to take part in real-time social-media and digital operations at the 96th PGA Championship and the 2014 Ryder Cup. He also helped lead a team of Ball State students to the 2012 London Olympic Games, producing multimedia stories for national media outlets. Sports Link had the first student-produced programming to air on a national television network when it partnered with Fox College Sports in 2010.

“What Chris has done at Ball State is nothing short of revolutionary,” says Brandon Costa, director of digital, SVG/program director, SVG College Sports Summit. “As a former sports information director, Chris saw the changes video and digital technology would bring to college athletics, welcomed it with open arms, and created an organization in Ball State Sports Link that athletic departments and universities across the country are looking to emulate. Ball State Sports Link brings together the best of what the university experience is all about: telling the stories of student-athletes and providing tremendous opportunities for students interested in a career in sports media behind the scenes.”

The SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award is selected by a panel of past Pioneer Award honorees, current and former SVG College Sports Summit chairmen, SVG staff, and senior members of the SVG College Advisory Committee.

SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award Honorees:
2017: Chris Taylor, Ball State University
2016: Jim Nachtman, Pennsylvania State University
2015: John Kvatek, University of Central Florida
2015: Jeff Schmahl, Texas A&M University, University of Nebraska
2014: Rick Church, Michigan State University
2013: Mark Rodin, Florida State University
2012: Ken Norris, University of California, Los Angeles

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