The 2001-2002 football season has been a season of marked improvement and noteworthy successes for the UB Bulls, one that's seen two upsets, a complete shutout and coverage on both ESPN and the Empire Sports Network.
The ability to see UB's teams from the comfort of their living room, however, may escape students living on campus for some time. UB's cable offerings do not include the Empire Sports channel, which broadcasts 90 percent of Sabres games and this year included coverage of UB's games against Marshall and Rutgers University. Adelphia 13, which broadcasts every Bulls home game, is also not available via campus cable.
According to Senior Associate Director of Residence Halls Marian Tetreault, the university originally intended to incorporate Empire Sports into its cable system, but have held off so far due to a lack of student interest. A survey conducted last year of over 1,300 on-campus residents revealed a mere 10-percent interest in seeing Empire Sports Network brought into the lineup.
An upgrade of UB's broadcast equipment would be another factor standing in the way of Empire's inclusion in the network, according to Tetreault.
"We don't have the equipment to broadcast the Empire Sports Network, and the cost made it prohibitive for us to obtain it. The current satellite would have to be removed and we would have to add an entirely new system, which would cost in excess of $30,000," said Tetreault.
Some students maintain that interest in the channel is far more common than the survey suggests.
"It's anything but a lack of student interest, that's one thing I could never understand since I was a freshman here, why wouldn't they show the Empire Sports Network channel, " said Frank Conjerti, a junior media studies major. "If I want to catch a Sabres game, especially during the playoffs, I either have to go home or go to a friend's house that lives off campus ... because they can't show the biggest local sports program in Buffalo on UB's."
"I think that half the people that go to UB are Sabres fans, we should have Buffalo sports on campus at least," said Tim Baker, a junior majoring in business. "I think they should give us our Buffalo stations and get rid of these crap Nickelodeon children stations. I was never surveyed, I don't even know one person here that has been ... I think they should redo the survey."
Assistant Athletic Director for Athletics Communications Paul Vecchio would like to see nothing more than to have UB sports shown on the campus network.
"Most definitely, bringing the Empire Sports Network to our cable provider could be nothing but a positive [boost] for our program," said Vecchio. "Having our sports shown in front of the students will help give them a better understanding of what's going on around here in UB sports." Vecchio added that UB's football program in particular would benefit from the expanded audience.
"It would be a great benefit to help promote student athletics and bring a deeper connection between the students and their teams," said Vecchio.
According to Tetrault, a strong student demand for Bulls coverage could possibly bring Empire to campus in the near future.
"We certainly want to find out what the students want and we will be surveying again," said Tetreault.