ESPN's "NCAA On Campus" coming to Mount Olive College
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 13, 2008 2:02 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- "NCAA On Campus" is coming to Mount Olive College.
The ESPN television show plans to run a segment on the Trojan baseball team, currently ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA, and No. 2 by Ping Baseball.
The taped broadcast, scheduled for April 23, will include interviews with players and highlights from Mount Olive's doubleheader against in-state rival Chowan University that afternoon.
Series co-host Melissa Knowles will cover the segment. She'll talk with student-athletes from other sports and show footage of the Mount Olive campus, one of the smallest Division II schools in the nation.
"It's a great opportunity for us to gain some additional exposure on the national level for the school and our athletics program, particularly baseball," said Jeff Eisen, MOC athletics director. "We're very excited to have ESPN come to Mount Olive."
Lee Nassau, producer of NCAA On Campus, hatched the idea while browsing the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) website. He noticed that each player in the Trojans' starting lineup was ranked among the nation's Division II statistical leaders in or more categories.
"That was a unique story for us," said Nassau. "And then we had the pleasant surprise of finding out the team has been ranked No. 1 for several weeks."
CoSIDA asked the question if any other school has had its entire batting lineup ranked nationally in one or more statistical categories. Since the poll appeared on the website, there has been no response.
Nassau believes Mount Olive is setting a historical precedent.
"NCAA On Campus" premiered in 2002. Nassau said one of the purposes of the program is to feature sports and schools that generally are not in the national spotlight.
"(We) seek to profile the other student-athletes ... thousands of both male and female in Divisions I, II and III," said Nassau. "Most (athletes) who will, as the NCAA's public service announcement declares, 'go pro in something other than sports.'"
The show will also include the segment "Ask Myles." A Mount Olive student-athlete will get a chance to direct a question to NCAA President Dr. Myles Brand, who will answer the question on the show.
"That's a nice part of the program," said Eisen. "I think a lot of times they see the NCAA as impersonal, and people don't really understand who is behind it and how decisions get made. It's a great opportunity for a student-athlete to ask a question and get an answer."
Mount Olive made its first-ever appearance on national television on March 1. CBS College Sports and FSN South broadcast the Trojans' regular-season finale against 2007 Division II men's basketball champion Barton College.
Eisen said it was "a huge deal" and "home run" for the school to have that game shown nationally. He can't imagine the impact ESPN will have when it visits the campus in less than two weeks.
"(The recognition) goes back to the student-athletes and coaches for all the good work they do," said Eisen. "(SID) David (Shulimson) has done a great job behind the scenes making people aware of the success we've had, which leads to opportunities like this.
"It's been a great year for us."
The episode will debut on ESPN Classic on May 21 at 12:30 p.m. (eastern time). The show will also air on ESPNU, but the times have not been determined.
Editor's note: David Shulimson, MOC sports information director, and ESPN contributed to this report.
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