It’s a Team Sport: University IT Assists at the Sun Bowl
The Stanford Football team’s recent Sun Bowl victory against the North Carolina Tar Heels was the result of talent, technical precision, and a lot of practice.
Those are the same ingredients required for University IT’s Communications Services Installation and Maintenance (I&M) team to deliver a win to the football team’s coaches. Talent, technical precision, and a lot of practice—more than 25 years’ worth—go into providing coach communications that operate flawlessly during both home and away games.
“The University IT team is a vital part of the operation on game day,” said Matt Doyle, Senior Associate Athletic Director and Director of Football Operations for Stanford. “They are reliable, experienced, and incredibly valuable. Quite literally, we would not be able to function without them.”
Led by manager Rocco Petrunti, this UIT team—which includes Jay Larson, Dan Fraher and Giovanni Moraga—provides coach communications that consist of hands-free, wireless headsets and beltpacks that allow 15 coaches on the field’s sidelines to communicate with each other, as well as with nine coaches in the booth above the field. That capability empowers coaches to easily share insights with each other about the ever-changing game dynamics, and suggest strategies the team can deploy in reaction to offensive and defensive configurations, substitutions, injuries, and more.
“We have to ensure that communications are working every second,” said Jay Larson, a UIT network specialist who has supported Stanford Football for 30 years. “If there was a problem and a communications failure, then we would have to call a technical timeout, stop the show, go to commercial, and try to get the equipment to work well.”
And if the faulty equipment is not repairable? “Then, we would convert to the wired solution and if this fails too, both team’s coaches would be required to take off their headsets,” added Larson. “Complete failure has never happened, but it’s come close with opposing teams’ equipment failure.”
That kind of pressure is a constant for Petrunti, Larson, Fraher, and Moraga and the entire UIT team supporting coach communications on game day, but it’s heightened even more during bowl games. The Sun Bowl, which was held Dec. 30 in El Paso, Texas, marked the 13th bowl game that UIT supported.
“The bowl game experience is more intense, but to me, that’s exciting,” said Petrunti. “Being there and supporting the team and the coaches is a great experience and very rewarding.”
Doyle, who has worked with the football program for 17 years, said it has been a pleasure to work with Petrunti, Larson, and the UIT team.
“It has been very special for us to get to know the members of the UIT team through the years. In addition to the incredible knowledge and expertise they possess, they are also great guys,” said Doyle. “I am very proud and privileged to have them as part of our team’s success.”
UIT Communications Services supports Stanford Athletics in other sports and other ways. Specifically, UIT provides support to numerous other teams including men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, and volleyball, as well as baseball.
UIT also provides communications support during special athletic events on campus such as the NCAA tournaments, the Bank of the West Classic tennis tournament, and the World Cup. Additionally, the team supports all coach housing—about 35 residences on campus—with cable boxes, modems, and phones, and supports Stanford Athletics buildings, totaling about 15 on campus.