FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – On Wednesday, ESPN announced its slate of Southeastern Conference gymnastics broadcasts to be televised this year on their family of networks, and four University of Arkansas gymnastics meets were selected to be broadcasted on the SEC Network. The Razorbacks will make their 2015 national television debut on Jan. 16, as their home-opening meet against perennial power Alabama will be shown live on the SEC Network.
For the first time in SEC history, gymnastics meets will be shown live on national television via the ESPN family of networks. The inaugural live broadcast will feature a doubleheader on the SEC Network starting at 6 p.m. CT with the defending Co-NCAA Women’s Gymnastics National Champions, Florida, facing conference opponent Auburn, followed by Arkansas hosting last year’s No. 1 team in the RPI, Alabama, in SEC action at 8 p.m. CT.
Overall, there will be 10 lives meets broadcasted this season, while 11 other meets will air on delay on either SEC Network, ESPN2 or ESPNU this season.
“Taking on 21 regular season meets and airing ten of them live is a tremendous undertaking, as SEC gymnastics has not traditionally been covered live,” said coordinating producer Meg Aronowitz. “Our technology team is working to develop a scoring interface system that will allow us to update scores live to the viewer in a sport where scoring is not instantaneous and can be challenged. Our goal is to showcase the athleticism of the gymnasts and present the meets to the viewer at home as if they were watching live from the stands. The SEC Network platform gives us the opportunity to do just that.”
Head coach Mark Cook was extremely elated that the conference will be broadcasting live meets this season, and he states that it something that has been discussed in the past.
“This is monumental for our sport,” said Cook. “It’s is something we’ve talked about in our coaches meetings over the last several years in terms of trying to broadcast our National Championship live. But for us to have the SEC Network produce these regular season meets live is phenomenal. It’s going to be exciting and to be a part of that first night of living broadcast will be a very special moment for not only our program, but for everyone in our sport.”
The Jan. 16 broadcast will be the first of four airings on the SEC Network for the Razorbacks this season, but will be the only live airing they will be featured in. Arkansas will have two home meets televised on tape delay on the SEC Network, as its Feb. 6 meet against defending Co-NCAA Champion, Florida, will be shown on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. and the Feb. 27 match against Missouri will be broadcasted on Mar. 2 at 6 p.m. The Razorbacks concludes their national television slate on Mar. 9 at 8 p.m. with the Mar. 7 meet at Georgia.
Coach Cook is extremely pleased with the coverage of his team this year, and is elated that Arkansas will be featured in the inaugural doubleheader on the SEC Network. He expresses that the national stage will only motivate his gymnast more.
“To have a true national broadcast of our meets, live or delayed, gives both us and our conference great exposure,” said the Head Coach. “It promotes the sports within the United State and it helps with recruiting. We have kids from all over the nation on our team, and this new deal with the SEC Network will allow their families to tune in and watch their children and really be in the moment with us.”
Last season, the Razorbacks finished the year as a team at the NCAA Regionals where they placed third. Arkansas was able to send two gymnast, Katherine Grable and Amanda Wellick, to the NCAA Championship as individuals. Grable, who has since graduated, brought home the program’s first-ever NCAA Title, as she won the individual championship in both the floor exercise and vault.
Arkansas returns several gymnast from last year which features Wellick, as well as 2014 All-SEC selections, Sydnie Dillard and Samantha Nelson. 2012 NCAA All-American Stephani Canizaro, who is now in her senior year, also returns for Arkansas to providing both leadership and experience on the national stage to this year’s squad.
The Razorbacks will open the 2015 season on the road at defending Co-NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Champion, Oklahoma, on Jan. 9. Start time is slated for 7 p.m.
For more information on Arkansas gymnastics, follow @RazorbackGym on Twitter.