The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst Fort Hays State University needed to upgrade the school’s broadcast equipment with the latest innovations from NewTek, NDI and Vizrt, brands under the Vizrt Group.
Located in the heart of the largest city in northwestern Kansas, Fort Hays State University (FHSU) and its 15,000-person student body mirror the excitement and vibrancy of its hometown of Hays. The public university is one of six governed by the Kansas Board of Regents and is home to some of the state’s most celebrated athletic teams, all of which participate in the NCAA Division II Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA).
With sports playing an impactful role in the university community, the school had long been equipped for broadcasting the exciting games played by its football, basketball, and baseball teams. But as the pandemic scattered students and faculty, Tiger Media Network Director, Nick Schwein, and News and Sports Director Russell Heitmann, found they needed broadcast technology to replicate the school’s community values virtually, while maintaining production quality with as small a staff as possible.
Interactive Recruiting and Learning, even at a Distance
Not only was the sharing of classroom lessons critical to keeping the existing student body connected and up to date on classwork during virtual learning, but the university also needed to continue expanding its community through recruiting during one of the most difficult admissions processes in recent history.
Each year, FHSU runs the Student Recognition Programs (SRP) for high school juniors and seniors in the area who express strong interest in or have already been accepted to FHSU. Normally, the programs would be throughout Kansas, visiting Topeka, Wichita, and other cities across the state. With COVID, these vital student-university meetings were rendered unimaginable, unless held virtually.
To maintain connections with prospective and incoming students virtually, the admissions staff turned to the TriCaster® 2 Elite. Utilizing its Live Call Connect feature, the school facilitated Zoom-based discussions with prospective and incoming students.
Supporting the Sports Community and Delivering for Fans Despite Lockdown
Maintaining connection and community has been a paramount concern for FHSU and, as with any Midwestern school, the beating heart of that community is its sports program. As a result, FHSU needed to go all-in with its NewTek equipment to capture and share its Division II teams in action.
For home games, the school deploys a TriCaster® 2 Elite, a fleet of NDI®enabled Panasonic CX350s cameras and a 3P2 for replay and graphics.
Preparing Students for a Future in Tech
Amassing a professional-level gear setup for sporting events and university activities ensures broadcast-quality content with unmatched ease of use and provides students the opportunity to learn digital media production on some of the best equipment available. Content for the Tiger Media Network is created by students studying that field, earning both pay and credit hours along the way.
Justin Davis, a senior at FHSU, is currently the Director of Sports for the Tiger Media Network. A web development major, he knew nothing about broadcast technology when he first came on board but has since been motivated to look for jobs in the broadcast field, thanks to his experience with the TriCaster® 2 Elite and Vizrt technology.
By using products from NewTek, Vizrt and NDI, FHSU has been able keep its community educated, entertained and, most importantly, intact during the pandemic. Even more, FHSU is able to provide students with the rare opportunity to have real-world experience with the equipment that will position them for roles at businesses and institutions around the world that are similarly embracing broadcast technology to future-proof their endeavors.