TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State has taken a step in the right direction toward improved marketing of Sycamore athletics.
The ISU athletic department finalized a deal with XOS Technologies this week that will improve the Sycamores’ visibility to fans, alumni and potential recruits. Web streaming of men’s and women’s basketball home games will be available this season, hopefully beginning with a free stream of coach Royce Waltman’s team’s home opener Tuesday against Western Michigan.
The deal also involves a move and redesign of the Sycamores athletic web site to its own web server, away from the site at www.indstate.edu.
This is a move that many of the major athletic programs in the NCAA made several years ago and it has trickled down throughout the nation.
“We’re probably one of the last college athletic sites still on a .edu,” said ISU associate athletic director Brett Burchette. ISU plans to have the new site launched in early January of 2007.
But the web streaming is in the works for upcoming home games. Burchette said they will test the video equipment with Hulman Center staff Monday.
“We’re hopeful to offer the service on Tuesday as long as there’s no glitches,” Burchette said.
Burchette said ISU hopes to have the web streaming service available throughout the men’s and women’s basketball seasons for all home games. It could also be offered for away games if the conference opponent offers the service.
Five other Missouri Valley Conference schools have contracts with XOS — Bradley, Creighton, Southern Illinois, Wichita State and Evansville. Illinois State and Northern Iowa have deals with CSTV, the most popular host for athletic web services.
The MVC began offering web streaming this fall for volleyball and soccer. Packages for men’s and women’s basketball are available through the conference. All men’s MVC basketball games are available for $89.95, and women’s games will be at a cost of $69.95.
ISU will hope to come up with a price tag soon for its basketball packages, Burchette said.
MVC associate commissioner Mike Kern said the target market is fans, alumni of Valley schools and parents.
“Most of our users that have signed up for volleyball and soccer are generally parents not from the region,” Kern said. “That’s invaluable for them. Ultimately, our highest traffic will be basketball, but once schools figure out the technology, they can transfer it to the other sports. That’s our goal, to stream more than just basketball as far as league-wide distribution.”
The basketball streams won’t be available for the Valley’s growing network television packages. Eighteen men’s and women’s regular-season basketball games will be televised on FSN Midwest or Comcast SportsNet Chicago, and at least 24 games — the number of Bracketbuster games is unknown — will be on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.
The web streams can also tie in local audio feeds. The Valley hasn’t perfected the system so a viewer can choose his/her local broadcaster for its package, Kern said.
XOS, like its counterparts at CSTV, have a certain style to its web sites, but Burchette said that a committee at ISU will work with XOS’s design team “to build the look and feel for our web site.”
ISU hopes to offer similar services such as e-newsletters, mobile-phone wallpapers and ringtones, merchandise sales and other interactive services such as live statistics and online auctions to reach fans. Also, ISU can know who its fans are and maintain a relationship, Burchette said.
“I think it’s long overdue if you look at our site compared to what our site is competing against,” said Burchette. “There’s so much more bells and whistles you can offer. We hope to increase traffic and interest in Sycamore athletics.
“We hope fans get more connected to the university. It’s a whole new day and age of media relations.”
• Media relations department — ISU’s new assistant director of athletics for marketing John Sherman, whom you’ve probably seen on the Hulman Center court during the three exhibition basketball games doing promotions, will also handle media relations duties with the men’s basketball team.
Ace Hunt, formerly assistant media relations director, has been promoted to associate director of media relations. Hunt will continue to work with women’s basketball and join new baseball coach Lindsay Meggs this spring. Burchette said ISU plans to hire an assistant director of media relations.
• Foot notes — The successful Indiana State cross country teams hit the course today at Bowling Green, Ohio, for the Midwest Regional. The men’s team has moved up to a ranking of seventh in the region.
A seventh place finish at last year’s regional at Bloomington would have been good enough to qualify the Sycamores for the NCAA Championships, which are just over a week away at LaVern Gibson Championship Course. ISU placed ninth last year as Jordan Fife came up short of qualifying as an individual.
Craig Pearson can be reached by phone after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4356 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.