Longhorn Network opens doors for sneak preview
Aug. 18, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas -- Just eight days before its unprecedented on-air launch, Longhorn Network opened its doors to University of Texas student-athletes, coaches and administrators for a behind-the-scenes media tour of its studio and working space on Thursday afternoon.
The Texas-themed studio, complete with vintage Longhorns memorabilia, evoked smiles and even a few gasps.
"It didn't really hit me until I walked in here today, and I saw how exceptional the studio was, that I understood how special this network is going to be for us," said Women's Swimming and Diving head coach Kim Brackin. "If Texas becomes more of a name in our country and our state, and more kids are watching what happens at Texas, that will only help our programs. And being exposed like this will help (our student-athletes') confidence and their mindsets."
Longhorn Network will go live with a two-hour special from the South Mall of the UT campus on Friday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. Central. The network's on-air team of Lowell Galindo, Samantha Steele and Kevin Dunn will be joined on the set by the Emmy Award-winning ESPN College GameDay crew featuring Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and Erin Andrews.
Following the debut special, Texas Volleyball opens its 2011 season against Pepperdine in the Burnt Orange Classic live at 8 p.m. on Longhorn Network.
On Thursday, Athletics Directors DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky joined Dave Brown, Longhorn Network's vice president for programming, and Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president, college sports programming, on a panel and entertained questions from the media.
ESPN is still in negotiations with all cable and satellite providers regarding distribution.
"I think there will be a lot of activity between now and the Rice game (Sept. 3)," Magnus said. "It's not a great concern right now. I went through the launch of ESPNU a few years ago, so I am battle-scarred from the distribution wars. It comes with the territory. (Talks) are coming down to the wire."
Thursday's visit provided tangible evidence of all the work done since November 2007, when UT granted IMG College, UT Athletics' multimedia rights partner, permission to start studying the possibility of launching a network.
"We are so proud to be associated with ESPN. They're a class act," Dodds said. "This is going to be something really spectacular for Texas. For our coaches and kids, this is what it's all about. It's a wonderful thing. I'm very proud of it, and am excited about it."
Said Plonsky: "This is television. For our universe of alumni, they're going to get to see stories they're not used to seeing."
For the student-athletes, they were impressed with what they saw Thursday, live and in person.
"I feel really blessed and fortunate to come in here and be one of the first athletes to get a look at the studio," said Women's Basketball's Ashley Gayle. "To have heard about it for the past year, it has kind of been this thing in everybody's mind, and I didn't really know what to expect. It is just great to see it all come together."