By Randy Speer, Sports Editor
News of the Heart of America Athletic Conference signing a television deal has players wishing it was already August.
Heart Commissioner Lori Thomas finalized a deal with Niles Media Group to broadcast football games for the 2015 season, the conference announced in a press release this morning.
“Growing up playing football, you get to see everyone playing on TV and you wonder what you look like playing on TV,” said Christian Haack, a senior wide receiver at Benedictine. “Now you are the one that people are getting to watch play.”
The deal includes 13 games with all 12 teams getting coverage. All teams but one team will have a home contest broadcast.
“I never thought that I’d be able to play on TV at an NAIA school,” said Tyler Henness, junior running back for Benedictine.
Benedictine will be televised four times – Sept. 12 vs. Missouri Valley, Sept. 19 at MidAmerica Nazarene, Oct. 10 vs. Culver-Stockton and Oct. 31 at William Penn (Iowa).
Starting with the first week of the season on Aug. 29, at least one game will be televised each Saturday at 11 a.m. The schedule includes a game every weekend through Nov. 14. The final week’s matchup is currently undetermined to provide the opportunity to broadcast a game with championship implications.
“There are not many times that NAIA schools get to play on TV other than the national championship, so this is a big deal,” Haack said.
Haack, who calls El Paso, Texas home, also talked about the impact this deal has on the families of the players.
“I can always call my parents after the game ask if they saw me on the BRSN (Benedictine Ravens Sports Network), and they do, but it’s not always high-quality video and they don’t always get to see everything that I do.”
Henness, a Paola, Kansas product, added that the deal aids his family members that can’t make it to the games most weeks.
“I am excited for my grandparents and cousins because they usually can’t make it up to games very regularly. So it will be nice that they will get to watch at least four games on TV.”
The Heart is in the process of rebranding itself following the addition of four new schools. It recently changed the logo and the new television adds to the new look.
“My goal as commissioner is to look for opportunities to improve the experience for student-athletes and coaches while raising the profile for institutions and the conference,” Thomas said in the press release. “To televise a 13-week football schedule achieves all of that. I want to thank Niles Media Group for their work and partnership with the Heart of America Athletic Conference to make this happen.”