"There are so few jobs in television it's ridiculous. You can go through communications college, or you can come to me. Hang with me for a summer, you learn more than in four years of college."
- Legendary CBS Sports Golf Senior Associate Producer Chuck Will
in a 1998 Sports Illustrated Interview.
Athens, GA (Jan 14, 2008) - Times have changed since Chuck Will gave the above quote in a Sports Illustrated interview. The explosive growth in television and new media has greatly expanded the number of jobs available. The challenge is preparing people ti step into the roles needed to produce content for these platforms. On January 9, 2008, the University of North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels played host to UNC-Asheville in a non-conference game played in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. ESPNU, as part of their broadcast of the game, hosted 16 students from the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. They were not there as guests, but as production and technical crew for the broadcast. In the kick-off event of ESPNU Campus Connection, the students earned class credit, not money, for their roles on the production.
Led by Sara Moore, who sat in the seat of student game producer, the students gained hands on experience in a variety of roles including talent, videotape, statistics, and camera work.
"We do our best to give our students a feel for real-world, deadline pressure," said associate professor Charlie Tuggle, who leads the school's broadcast program. "There's no better way to do that than to have them work alongside seasoned professionals during an ESPNU telecast."
Not all of the roles filled were the glamorous on-camera roles that people think about when watching a sporting event. This did not mean they were any less important, as students worked doing statistics, utility work (lugging the cables around for the hand-held cameras), stage manager, and audio.
Although the students were working for credit only, paid professionals were not displaced from their jobs. "Our production and technical staff worked side by side with the students in a teaching, mentoring role," said Tilea Coleman from ESPN Media Relations. "This program gave them the opportunity to learn from people who have been working in the business for a long time, and to apply what they have learned in a very real live situation."
"Yes they were nervous before the game started," said Coleman, "but who wouldn't be with the pressure of doing well for the class and in front of a viewing audience that included their friends and family? They put it all aside and did a great job!"
"Not all of the schools will be doing television projects," said Coleman. "Some of the schools will be developing content for ESPN.com. We are still working out the details as the program grows."
In addition to UNC, the ESPNU Campus Connection Program is currently working with Florida State University, Georgetown University, University of Georgia, University of Missouri, Ohio University, Pepperdine University, Syracuse University, University of Tennessee, University of Texas and Texas Southern University. The goal is to be working with 20 universities by the end of the year.
"ESPNU Campus Connection will provide these students multiple opportunities to showcase the skills they have developed at UNC," said Burke Magnus, vice-president and general manager, ESPNU. "We are pleased to share our knowledge and resources to further enhance their talents, while also giving our fans content from the college student's perspective."
Note; This article was originally published on "Eye on Sports Media".