Changes that will impact the way Tennessee and Vanderbilt athletics are consumed for years to come are about to take place on campus.
The much anticipated launch of the SEC Network, which will air Southeastern Conference content 24 hours per day, is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Tennessee is constructing a $10 million studio in the first floor of its Brenda Lawson Athletic Center. Athletic department spokesman Jimmy Stanton said the studio is privately funded and will have other university uses beyond the SEC Network, such as training students in television production.
The studio's glass windows will allow viewing opportunities for fans walking past the building on their way to football and basketball games.
"Those fans will be able to literally look through the windows, almost like a New York City environment, and see our coaches being interviewed, our student-athletes being interviewed," Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said. "... It's one more opportunity for us to create a fan-friendly environment on game day."
Tennessee officials said they believe prospects will be impressed.
"Everyone's continuing to evolve," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Everyone's continuing to look into the vision of how they can elevate and grow their program and the facilities. In the SEC, no one stands still."
Vanderbilt has invested more than $3 million, including the construction of a state-of-the-art control room in Memorial Gym that will transmit from all sports on campus back to the network's home base in Charlotte, N.C.
"We've definitely been working on this project for quite a while," Vanderbilt director of video productions Steven Parks said. "We have been kicked into high gear over the last year or so, which has included some major updates to our control room for full HD production and we've added some additional staff.
"We're just excited to be able to get more Vanderbilt content out there with use of the new platform."
The investment also allowed for the installation of optical cable fiber at the baseball, outdoor track, soccer and lacrosse facilities, ensuring that all games can be broadcast in high definition no matter where they are played on campus.
Not only will the station air the Commodores' football season opener against Temple on Aug. 28, it also will feature games and content from most all of the school's athletic programs.
Vanderbilt fans will see an example of that within the first hour of the SEC Network going live.
The Commodores women's soccer team's exhibition game against UAB, which begins on Thursday at 4 p.m., will be one of two "live look-ins" during the first hour of the programming.
"It's a great opportunity not only for our program, but for Vanderbilt, to be out in the forefront of all of this," soccer coach Derek Greene said. "It's amazing that the SEC would allow all of their sports to take such a role in this. It's a testament to Commissioner (Mike) Slive and his office, they value every sport in the SEC."
The full game will be available on SEC Network +, which is the online video branch of the network. In addition to three regular-season games to be aired on the TV, all of the Commodores' soccer matches will appear, with full production, online.
Greene said that for sports such as women's soccer, the ability to view each game nationally will be a huge recruiting tool.