This week, ESPNU and ESPN3 will bring daily coverage of the World University Games to a United States audience. Combined, the networks will carry 115 hours of the international competition from Kazan, Russia beginning Saturday. Front Row sat down with Todd Myers, Director of Programming & Acquisitions, to discuss what it means for sports fans:
Names you’ll know in the 2013 World University Games: A sampling of familiar athletes and coaches
• MBB Head Coach Bob McKillop, Davidson College
• MBB Asst. Coach John Beilein, Michigan
• MBB Asst. Coach Frank Martin, South Carolina
• WBB Head Coach Sherri Coale, Oklahoma
• WBB Asst. Coach Brian Giorgis, Marist
• WBB Asst. Coach Coquese Washington, Penn State
• MBB player Doug McDermott, Creighton
• MBB player Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
• MBB player Luke Hancock, Louisville
• MBB player Adreian Payne, Michigan State
• WBB player Shoni Schimmel, Louisville
• WBB player Ariel Massengale, Tennessee
• WBB player Bria Hartley, UCONN
• WBB player Tricia Liston, Duke
Most NCAA athletes are familiar with this event, but many sports fans might not be. What are the World University Games?
This is the 27th edition of the Summer Universiade games (held every other year) and the international competition will run July 6-17 from Kazan, Russia. It features student athletes ages 17-28 and has proven to be a platform for showcasing future stars that have gone on to be Olympians and professional athletes across the globe.
Why is ESPN interested in bringing the games to a US audience?
The World University Games are second only the Olympic Games in terms of number of participating athletes & countries represented. Some of basketball’s biggest names — like Ray Allen, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird and Allen Iverson — have represented the United States in previous years. It’s become clear this is an event that showcases some of the world’s best athletes. It’s really a hidden gem in the U.S. and we’re hoping to shine a light on these phenomenal athletes.
What can fans expect to see on ESPNU and ESPN3’s coverage?
Our coverage is focused predominantly on Team USA across a number of sports — men’s and women’s basketball, beach volleyball and track and field to name a few.
What is the most challenging part of programming the event?
Each event is featuring the best athletes around the globe, so the challenge was figuring out which events to distribute live. This year we plan to distribute a little more than 100 hours live on ESPN3. I feel we’re just at the tip of the iceberg with this event. The potential is there to produce and telecast 250-300 hours live.
Which event are you most interested in watching?
Men’s basketball. The opportunity is there for Team USA to meet Team Russia in the championship game. If it happens, I will be interested to see how the [Cleveland] Cavaliers first-round [2013 NBA Draft] pick Sergey Karasev performs against the best U.S. collegians.