Maroon Sports streams first remote broadcast in Schar Center control room

The School of Communications program, which partners with Elon Athletics to broadcast university sporting events, streamed Elon’s football game against New Hampshire during Family Weekend.

There have been plenty of celebratory firsts following the opening of Schar Center, Elon University’s new 160,000-square-foot convocation center. Most notably, the Elon volleyball team hosted the center’s first collegiate athletic event – a 3-0 win over North Carolina A&T State University – on Aug. 30. But one recent milestone may have gone unnoticed by many.

A look inside the Schar Center’s control room during Saturday’s livestream of Elon's 30-9 win over New Hampshire. Photos courtesy of Elon Athletics
In conjunction with Elon Athletics, Maroon Sports streamed Saturday’s home football game against New Hampshire, the first athletic event remotely broadcasted from Schar Center’s control room. (The football team’s previous home game this season was shown on a traditional television broadcast.)

Moving forward, the state-of-the-art video facility will serve as the central hub for all nearby sporting facilities, meaning video feeds from other athletic events on campus will be centrally managed from Schar Center.

“This is the standard now at universities across the country,” said Katie Halter, Maroon Sports coordinating producer. “Universities are using and utilizing fiber (cable) to their cameras and other necessary feeds and sending it back to one centralized control room.”

From a viewer perspective, a centralized control room won’t affect a broadcast’s overall look. But from a production perspective, it alleviates several logistical issues and allows a production team to work from a more robust control room than a remote location could offer.

Supported by 12 Elon students, Halter teamed with Corey Speights, director of video production for athletics; Jeff James, chief engineer; and Quintin Brenner, video production engineer, to ensure the first remote broadcast went seamlessly.

Halter commended her students for their contributions, singling out Landon Kestlinger ’19, who served as a camera operator, and Logan Bealke ’19, a replay operator, for their leadership and mentorship of fellow students.

A team of 12 students helped stream Elon’s Sept. 29 home football game.
What made the broadcast’s success even more impressive was Maroon Sports wasn’t given the OK to remotely livestream from the new control room until five days before Elon’s CAA conference opener. In the time between getting permission and kickoff, the staff tested and retested equipment to work out potential issues.

Thankfully, the feedback from the broadcast has been positive, said Halter.

“Compared to a volleyball game, football games are a bigger production with more expectations,” Halter said. “So, we were glad it went smoothly.”

Assistant Professor Max Negin, who serves as faculty director of Maroon Sports, noted that Elon’s current live game coverage far exceeds what students produced just five years ago – thanks in large part to access to professional-grade facilities.  

According to Negin, when he first started supporting athletic events on campus, live game broadcasts were conducted on folding tables and U-Haul trucks on location. And converted closet space in Alumni Gym served as a control room.

“You could definitely say there has been a rapid upgrade in the technology that we have on campus,” he said. “The beauty of what happened Saturday is that we were able to produce both a better webcast and a better real-world experience for our students.”

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