Once you spend a little time with members of the Information Technology Services group that provides tech support to the UNC-Chapel Hill Athletics Department, you’ll realize that the work is like supporting a city.
The On Site Support Athletics team provides customer service, information technology and management support to customers at 17 buildings within 6 square miles. Those customers include Athletics Department staff, coaches, 800 student athletes, spectators, as many as 250 volunteers, news media, sponsors, security personnel and youth camp attendees. The buildings include the large, high-profile venues of Kenan Stadium and the Smith Center, which draw up to 65,000 and 23,000 people, respectively, and lesser known places such as the Tennis Center, Chapman Golf Center and Finley Golf Course.
Supporting museums, eateries, media
In addition, the group supports the technology needs of other Athletics Department facilities and operations—museums, maintenance and facilities offices, a golf pro shop, restaurants, administrative offices, gyms, study areas, conference facilities, TV and video production, press rooms, sports medicine and command center with emergency service professionals. The group supports NCAA regional events and non-sporting events, such as a 2012 visit by President Obama at Carmichael Arena.
“We are behind-the-scene support, providing the best technology services for our many venues and staff,” said Christy Suits, OSS Systems Analyst. “We are just one tiny cog of the entire thing.”
Group escalated projects
This tiny cog is a five-person team—four OSS employees and one Athletics Department employee. Before Tom Livers arrived 2 1/2 years ago to lead the team, the group was understaffed. Livers beefed up the group and started a work-study program to help with inventory, projects and game-day support. Given the staffing limitations, just maintaining computers and technology ate up most of the group’s time.
With additional staff members and interns, OSS Athletics has been able to escalate its projects. The group has adopted new tools and systems that enable the Athletics Department to be more efficient, innovative, competitive and customer friendly. The group has been so proactive that some of the tools that OSS Athletics has implemented for Athletics were later adopted by the broader campus community. For example, OSS Athletics rolled out the Microsoft Surface, which is both a laptop and a tablet, with coaches and others within Athletics. Now other University departments and entities have joined the purchasing contract to buy the device for their workers.
The group supports the golf tee-time reservation system, TV trucks, press boxes, scoreboards, televised events, game-day radio, instant replay for basketball and virtual desktops. OSS Athletics team members help manage and collect student data for attendance at games. They set up computers, printers and sound systems for kids’ camps. They more than doubled the number of security cameras, established remote viewing of security footage, installed a gymnastics scoring system and adopted a GPS system for monitoring athletes’ performance. Occasionally, out at the University tennis courts, they even trim tree branches that are blocking the Wi-Fi signal. The group also provides purchasing, systems life cycling, network storage, hardware and software support, desktop infrastructure and printer infrastructure support.
“If it’s electric, we kind of run it,” Suits said.
Walking, memorization and collaboration
As for team members’ own devices, they never turn off their cell phones. OSS Athletics team members are available day and night and weekends.
“You realize they’re not calling you if it’s not important,” Suits said.
They attend numerous games and events. During cross-over season when one season’s sports are not quite finished and the next season’s sports are beginning, OSS Athletics members sometimes juggle simultaneous events by shuttling back and force from venues in a golf cart.
Throughout the year, the job requires miles of walking each day and much memorization. In this “city,” the thousands of employees, coaches, athletes, news media and sponsors appreciate when OSS Athletics’ staff members remember their names.
The group works in close collaboration with the Athletics Department and with fellow ITS staffers, especially with ITS Communication Technologies.
“In order to effectively complete our mission of supporting the Athletics Department, we utilize a team approach and would not be successful without the help of our other teammates in ITS,” Livers said. “We rely on the Control Center, Networking and various other groups within ITS to help deliver an excellent customer experience.”
Customers value group’s service
Tim Sabo, Assistant Director of Ticket Operations, has been working with some of the OSS
Athletics team members for all of his 15 years at Carolina. “Those folks have done a great job for us” and are strong partners, he said. The Athletics Department relies on OSS for guidance and to help the department to be more efficient through innovative technologies, which enables the department to better serve Carolina’s fans, Sabo said.
The OSS Athletics group is “driven to help us do our jobs better,” said Joe Sagula, Women’s Head Volleyball Coach at Carolina. “They want to see us be successful.”
Rick Steinbacher, Senior Associate Athletic Director, described the support the department receives from the group as “outstanding.” The team members “are fast, friendly, efficient and a joy to work with,” he said. “I appreciate the proactive approach they take to finding new and better ways to leverage technology in all that we do.”
Dean Smith Center
Kenan Stadium / Kenan Football Center
Fetzer Field-Belk Track
McCaskill Soccer Center
Eddie Smith Field House
Carolina Basketball Museum
Ernie Williamson Athletics Center
Finley Golf Course / Chapman Golf Center
216 and 220 Finley Golf Course Road – Administrative offices, meeting and conference rooms
Anderson Softball Stadium and Williams Field