More than 500 South Carolina alumni and fans had a chance to be part of history along with football coach Steve Spurrier, 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers, athletics director Ray Tanner, and several other Gamecock coaches with the launch of the SEC Network Thursday night in Columbia. The SEC Network went on the air at 6 p.m. with its three-hour "SEC Now" news show and had live reports from My Carolina Alumni Association's annual Fall Sports Preview Party at Seawell's on Rosewood Drive, adding a little extra excitement to an already enthusiastic crowd.
"I think it's great that the SEC Network chose to be here tonight," said Charlie Meetze, a 2009 South Carolina graduate. "The network is going to mean so much for our programs and our university, and the added exposure is going to be great."
Operated by ESPN and based in Charlotte, NC, the SEC Network airs content for the conference's 14 schools 24 hours per day. SEC Network correspondent Shannon Spake had live reports from the event, including an interview with coach Spurrier.
"You always know how popular this conference is, but to see the effect nationwide is just special," Spake said. "With a network committed to just one conference, you get stories outside of just football and basketball. You get the stories from every sport, and I think it will be really cool to tell the stories of all of the student-athletes within this conference."
Officials at the SEC Network estimate it can currently be seen in 91 million households, and Gamecock fans in attendance were excited about seeing a wide variety of Gamecock sports.
"It give us a place to go to watch our teams and celebrate our successes," said 2009 alumna Katie Bullard. "Other than football, I'm looking forward to watching baseball and basketball. I'm just happy to have a place to call home to watch all of our games."
Spake added that she's been impressed with the commitment from all of the schools to making the SEC Network a success, and she thinks the investment by the schools in technology and staff to locally produce high quality broadcasts will benefit students.
"It's such a great opportunity for young journalists and students who are interested in a career in journalism," Spake said. "They'll have a huge amount of resources and assets right there at their fingertips. The students at these schools will have a nice advantage when they go out into the world because they'll have some experience already."
South Carolina will open the 2014 football season on the SEC Network on Thursday, August 28, against Texas A&M. In addition to live television broadcasts, the network gives fans the opportunity to see many other sports live on both the television channel as well as its online digital platform. While the network guarantees a minimum of 40 events per school on the digital side, South Carolina intends to locally produce between 110 and 120 home events for men and women's soccer, men and women's basketball, volleyball, sand volleyball, baseball and softball.
To find out where you can find the SEC Network on your television provider, visit the following link: http://getsecnetwork.com/channel-finder