Mark Cuban Center prepares content for March Madness

The Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology is like creative services. They create video, broadcast, graphic design, photo, digital and social media content for sporting events, giving student interns firsthand experience to prepare them for the media and sports world after college.

With the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament coming to Bloomington, the center's talents are being used by the NCAA as they prepare for the games.

Jeremy Gray, senior associate athletic director and director for Cuban Center, said he and his staff are providing tournament content such as videos and graphics. The content is mostly being created by official Cuban Center staff, but their interns play a role, too, by helping with the video board, Gray said.

"The NCAA tournament, while at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and being assisted by those of us here at Indiana University, is an NCAA event, and they are in charge of running their own events," Gray said. "There are, however, elements for the video board that we're assisting with in the design work to be able to make our facility ready for the tournament itself."

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall has a 1,500-square-foot video board that hangs from the ceiling. Once just a scoreboard, it now features graphics, replays and commercials, among other content. Many of the designs that flash across the board are created by the Cuban Center.

"There's a full television crew that does it," Gray said. "We have our own in-house staff that utilizes students as well to pull that off, and they're housed in a state-of-the-art control room that's actually underneath Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall."

Victor Oladipo graphicView print quality image
Graphics of past players and current NBA stars like Victor Oladipo also appear on the video board during games. Graphic courtesy of the Cuban Center

The Cuban Center designs for the video board can be graphics with specific players or sponsors on them, IU banners that appear on the side of the board, videos of the Big Ten logo and many more creative pieces that appear during games.

The center's graphic design staff will get to expand their graphic palette with new colors for the tournament, Gray said. The staff is used to making designs with black, gray, cream and crimson as the primary colors for most of their work.

And while they love IU school colors, Cuban Center staffers will get to create more diverse designs to be used in the venue, with colors such as NCAA blue.

While Cuban Center staff will not be permitted to take game-day photos or videos on the court due to COVID-19 restrictions, some Cuban Center staff will still be present in the building's control room running the video board.

Other Cuban Center staffers -- like Lynnea Phillips, the new director of digital and social media -- play a part in the NCAA tournament, too, and not just at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Al Durham graphicView print quality image
Al Durham's graphic appeared on the video board in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Graphic courtesy of the Cuban Center

"I'm tapped to kind of help lead digital efforts in venue for both the Final Four and the national championship game" at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Phillips said.

Phillips will use a program called Tagboard during the games. Fans can use social media and have their post featured on the video board, she said.

"They're going to use a hashtag or a certain phrase, and we'll be able to mine it and then show it in venue," Phillips said.

Gray said it's an honor to host one of the preeminent sporting events in the country, and that it's one of his personal favorite sporting events of the year.

"Whether it's Barack Obama coming here to speak, to Elvis, to the Rolling Stones, to John Mellencamp playing the venue, to hosting the ABA championship, to the great Bob Knight basketball teams, we're used to hosting big events at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, and I think we'll prove to be great hosts again this time," Gray said.

"Making the Madness" is a feature series that explores the IU Bloomington and IUPUI students, staff, faculty, alumni and venues that are involved in hosting the 2021 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament.