PAC basketball finals slated for internet television



WEXFORD, Pa. -- For the first time ever, fans of the Presidents' Athletic Conference will be able to watch the league's men's and women's basketball championship games on "internet television."
The PAC announced recently it will provide free video webcasts of its upcoming championship games Feb. 24 on the conference website at www.pacathletics.org., thanks to the technology from TRZ Communication Services in Kent.
And that means Westminster and Thiel Colleges, both members of the eight-school PAC, conceivably could be part of the historic championship telecasts.
The title games that will cap the annual PAC tournaments will be produced by the local campus television stations from PAC member schools Thomas More, Waynesburg and/or Westminster, depending on the location of championship sites.
Technology makes it possible.
Joe Onderko, executive director of the PAC, said the conference "loves to be on the cutting edge of technological advances.
"By producing live video webcasts of our 2007 basketball championship games, we are putting the PAC ahead of the curve in relation to other NCAA Division III conferences.
"These video webcasts will give fans and alumni of PAC schools, especially those living in other parts of the country, the chance to experience the [enjoyment] of our basketball championship games."
The video web-casting agreement with TRZ Communication Services is the first such accord in the history of the PAC.
TRZ Communication Services, founded in 1982 by Tom Zawistowski, is recognized as an industry leader in video web-casting of live sporting events. TRZ provides a variety of services for hundreds of clients throughout North America, providing over 40,000 live events annually.
"This relationship marks the beginning of a new and [interesting] level of added-value media services being offered by Division III athletic programs," said Zawistowski, the chief executive officer of TRZ and the former general manager of the Youngstown Pride in the World Basketball League. "The Presidents' Athletic Conference becomes one of the [few] conferences nationally to provide their post-season tournaments to viewers worldwide via the Internet."
First television production
Onderko conceded some PAC schools already have streamed live videos of sports events on the web, but not as a full live television production.
"This will be the PAC's first full live television production on the web," said Onderko, noting, "The technology just recently has been made available to do this type of thing on a cost effective basis. It reached a point that with the bandwidth [availability] that this is now a cost-effective technology."
Onderko said the live webcasts are "just starting to take root. There have been a few schools who have done it, perhaps a handful, according to Zawistowski," said Onderko, who believes that live webcasts are the great equalizer and the future for smaller schools without access to traditional television exposure.
"This is really the growth area for our conference to provide access to the games. This is the next generation [of technology] to stream live video that opens great possibilities. We see this growing and becoming a much common event."
Eye regular season webcasts
In fact, "We already have contacted [Zawistowski] about video streaming some regular season basketball games next season," said Onderko.
The PAC championship games are scheduled for 1 p.m. (women) and 7:30 p.m. (men). The women's final will be played at the site of the top-seeded team entering the tournament, while the men's final will be held at the top remaining seed entering the title game.
But the PAC also may webcast both of the women's semifinal games Feb. 23 at 6 and 8 p.m., depending on the site.
kovach@vindy.com

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