BY BRANDON COSTA | Director of Digital | Sports Video Group
At the SVG College Sports Summit in Atlanta on June 1, the SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award, which honors innovators in video production and technology at the university level who have advanced the industry at large, was presented to Chris Taylor, senior director, digital sports production, and lecturer, Ball State University.
Taylor is in his seventh year as a lecturer in the Telecommunications Department and leads the school’s 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 after a short hiatus. Sports Link has trained countless students who have gone on to work in the industry and has radically redefined the content-creation relationship between athletics and academics.
“When I started working in athletics, I had a little note on my desk that says, ‘Remember why you are in it.’ And it sticks with me today for a lot of different reasons,” he said in accepting the award. “Remember why you are in it? [My students] are the reason why I am in it. And I share this award with you all.”
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.
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.
“I share the award with Ball State University because, if I am a pioneer individual, then Ball State is a pioneer university to allow this to happen,” he said. “Ball State is a place that continuously makes sure that I have enough water to make sure the grass that I am standing on is green, so that the grass on the other side doesn’t look greener. When there have been other opportunities for me in life, Ball State has always allowed me to keep watering the grass and make it greener where we are. And I’m very thankful for that.”
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.
Under Taylor’s direction, Ball State Sports Link students have received a wealth of opportunities off campus as well. He 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.
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
For more video interviews and coverage from the 2017 SVG College Sports Summit and other other events, visit SVG On Demand.