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Sports Link Ready For Sixth Year of NCAA #MarchMadness

BY CHRIS TAYLOR | Senior Director | Ball State Sports Link
For the sixth consecutive year, Ball State Sports Link, the nation’s first fully immersive digital sports production program, will again play a role in one of the largest sporting events in the country — the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

In addition, after adding NCAA Women’s Final Four social and digital responsibilities in 2016, Sports Link has expanded to include all 65 games of the 2017 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

Starting with the First Four games Tuesday, students will be curating content, filtering content, responding to content and operating an array of social media tools to provide fans the best experience.

All 132 games of both tournaments will be covered by Sports Link students for NCAA hashtag #MarchMadness, @ncaawbb and @FinalFour.

Ball State’s digital sports production center in the Ball Communications building (BC 216) will transform into the social hub for both tournaments through the National Championship games in April.

The hub will staff students following all 132 games, logging over 300 hours of basketball, producing real-time highlights and GIFs and programming the social content for in-venue displays at all men’s tournament locations. Students will be curating tens of millions of tweets and social impressions during the tournaments.

In a continuing educational partnership with the NCAA’s digital and social media department, as many as 40 digital sports production students under the direction of Chris Taylor (Senior Director of Digital Sports Production), Alex Kartman, (Director of Digital Sports Production) and Brad Dailey (Assistant Director of Digital Sports Production) will assist in the operation of social media curation, engagement and digital content production.

Kartman will also travel to the NCAA Men’s Final Four to coordinate on-site social content production with students and staff from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State, while Taylor and Dailey will coordinate the NCAA Final Four Social Hub from Muncie.  Both sites and universities will work collectively during the men’s Final Four.

“We are excited to partner with the Ball State Sports Link program on this initiative,” said Nate Flannery, Director of NCAA Digital and Social media, Championships and Alliances. “Not only does it provide our social media platforms with valuable content, it also gives the next generation of content producers firsthand experience.”

The partnership builds on the creation of a digital externship — now in its third year — between NCAA Digital and Social Media and Ball State Sports Link.

Juniors Matt Craig (Tulsa, Okla.) and Kaitlyn Young (Evansville, Ind.) have been serving as an NCAA Digital externs since the start of college basketball season, working within the NCAA digital and social department. Both will be serving in social producer positions during the Tournament.

Craig will join Sports Link graduate assistant Torey Fox (Riley, Ind.) working alongside the NCAA and Turner Sports staff during the first week of the tournament from the Turner Studios in Atlanta.  Young will be stationed in the women’s tournament control center in Indianapolis.

“This important partnership with the NCAA is one which continues to expand each year,” Taylor said. “The countless opportunities our students are provided in the digital space, with now two of the largest brands and sporting events in the nation, are not taken for granted. The fast-paced, quality and deadline-driven work is what employers are looking for.  Students leaving Ball State with these skills are highly sought after by employers.”

About the NCAA
The NCAA is a diverse association of more than 1,100 member colleges and universities that prioritize academics, well-being and fairness to create greater opportunities for nearly half a million student-athletes each year. The NCAA provides a pathway to higher education and beyond for student-athletes pursuing academic goals and competing in NCAA sports. More than 54,000 student-athletes experience the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics by competing in NCAA championships each year. Visit and for more details about the Association and the corporate partnerships that support the NCAA and its student-athletes. The NCAA is proud to have AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola as official corporate champions and the following elite companies as official corporate partners: Allstate, Amazon Echo, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, LG, Lowe’s, Marriott International, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Pizza Hut, Reese’s, Unilever and Wendy’s.

About Ball State Sports Link
The Department of Telecommunications created a new Digital Sports Production concentration in the existing Digital Production option, joining Digital Audio, Digital Video and Emerging Media. The concentration also has partnership with the School of Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise Science through courses in Sport Administration. It also includes courses from the joint Journalism/TCOM News Track. Digital Sports Production prepares students for careers in a developing and changing sports media arena. Using the immersive learning model of Ball State Sports Link, Digital Sports Production specializes in multiple areas.Students learn to produce a broad range of content from live remote productions, live-to-tape events, television programs, student-athlete features, Facebook Live shows and social media content creation. Other facets of the program include Sports Link Radio on WCRD 91.3 FM, social media management and analytics, podcasts and the use of mobile technology and interactivity via the web.

About Chris Taylor (81 Articles)
Senior Director of Digital Sports Production & Lecturer of Telecommunications | 2017 Recipient of SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award | Storyteller | Producer | Emmy Award Winner | Sports Media Junkie | Social Media Strategist | Country Music Enthusiast | Goldendoodle Owner | Follow me on Twitter @BallStateCT

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