Ball State University’s Ball State Sports Link Continues Growth With Facility Expansion, Commitment to Esports
The remodeled facility more than doubles the size of the program's previous workspace.
Ball State University’s Ball State Sports Link, one of the top collegiate programs in the country for aspiring sports content creators, has remained awfully busy despite the challenges that 2020 has thrown everyone’s way.
Earlier this month, the program re-opened its doors following a renovation and expansion of its facilities that now offer students bigger and better resources to produce more original live programming. In addition, the program continues to grow its commitment to live production and storytelling in esports as the Cardinals have officially launched a varsity esports team.
“We’re really excited about the growth [Sports Link] has had,” says Chris Taylor, Senior Director of Sports Production at Ball State University. “It’s exciting to have more space for our students. The commitment by Ball State is really special.”
Expanded Facility Grows Opportunities For Students
According to Taylor, who oversees the Ball State Sports Link program alongside Director of Sports Production Alex Kartman and Assistant Director of Sports Production Brad Dailey, the expansion more than doubles the program’s physical space on the Muncie, Indiana campus and includes a studio that the program plans to utilize to create more live content for social media channels.
Combined with Sports Link’s original classroom space and equipment room, as well as a space dedicated to the program’s NCAA social lab, the program will have over 2,500-square foot of operating space in the university’s College of Communication, Information and Media.
“The new space allows Sports Link to elevate, educate, and empower students and student-athletes to engage in innovative, collaborative productions,” Taylor said in an official release announcing the expansion. “As our industry is changing at such an accelerated space, our professional partners and networks are originating live shows specific to social media.”
The space, which also featuring more edit stations and a larger conference room for collaborative and creative storytelling planning, officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 8.
New Hire Elevates Commitment to Esports Growth
Ball State is also expanding its presence in the world of esports, recently announcing the hiring of Dan Marino as its new Director of Esports and Head Coach.
Marino, who officially joins on beginning October 27, comes to Ball State after spending the last year at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, where he developed and launched the collegiate program and served as head coach and director there.
“Between our shared values and Ball State’s commitment to excellence in all areas, the decision to join the University was an easy one,” Marino said in the official announcement of his hiring. “On a scale of 1-to-10, I’m at an 11. Both the University and I understand what college esports can and should be — a medium for student development. I sincerely cannot wait to join the team and get started.”
Sports Link has been producing esports-related content for the past couple of years, including hosting numerous Rocket League tournaments, but the school is preparing to take their commitment to the next level as the school’s newly established sports team is one of 12 members of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) to join the newly created independent Esports Collegiate Conference (ESC). The conference will field teams in League of Legends, Overwatch, and aforementioned Rocket League. A 3,000-square foot facility dedicated to the esports program is currently under construction just down the hall from the new Sports Link offices.
“This was all something that was being planned and thought of before COVID,” says Taylor, “but as we’ve seen esports, during the past six to seven months, has become much more mainstream and it plays in very nicely [with what we’re trying to accomplish].”