Shentel to sponsor ODAC
By Henry Culvyhouse
Shentel Cable announced Nov. 10 the company is now the official telecommunications provider for the Old Dominion Athletic Conference for the next four years.
Shentel has provided telephone, Internet and cable service for localities throughout the Shenandoah Valley for the past 113 years. The Old Dominion Athletic Conference is the second largest NCAA Division III conference in the country, with 17 member schools throughout the commonwealth, including Bridgewater College, Shenandoah University and Washington and Lee University. The partnership is the first Shentel has entered into as a multi-year sponsorship.
According to Tom Whitaker, vice president of Shentel, the partnership makes sense for the company due to its coverage area.
“If you lay a map of ODAC location against Shentel’s shared communities of interest, you can see that most ODAC schools, like Shenandoah University in Winchester or Eastern Mennonite in Harrisonburg, are in areas Shentel provides services,” Whitaker said.
Brad Bankston, the ODAC commissioner, said the partnership has been years in the making.
“It’s been an ongoing conversation between myself and Tom and his organization, given their footprint in the state of Virginia,” Bankston said. “In many ways they’re a lot like us, they’re small but competitive and try to deliver the best product they can.”
As the ODAC’s official telecommunications, Shentel will provide the ODAC headquarters with Internet and cable services, as well as support the conference through marketing and sponsoring championship games. Whitaker said the sponsorship would raise the profile of Shentel because it will allow them to market in areas outside their coverage.
“In the ODAC, we got schools near Virginia Beach, near Richmond, in Greensboro, North Carolina,” Whitaker said. “We hope by sponsoring championships, we can get our names in those communities and increase our visibility.”
According to Bankston, the partnership will also increase the prestige of the ODAC.
“Shentel is a well respected company in broadband and cable,” Bankston said. “They’ve made tremendous strides delivering a great product and anytime you can associate yourself with a company like that, it will increase your respectability.”
Another component of the partnership will be Shentel providing support to ODAC for streaming championship games over the Internet. According to Whitaker, Shentel has production capabilities to help stream the games.
“We have a small studio in Edinburg where we can help ODAC with video production, as well as network capability throughout the conference area to make that available on our systems,” Whitaker said.
According to Bankston, the streaming service will help increase interest in the ODAC.
“We’re not on ESPN, we’re not on the big channels,” Bankston said. “But if we give people who are interested in the ODAC access to see the games from home, that will help increase people interested in coming to play in the ODAC.”
In the past, Shentel has created channels for smaller colleges and universities, such as Glenville State College in West Virginia. Both Bankston and Whitaker said while establishing a channel for ODAC schools is not out of the question, it is not a stipulation of the partnership.
Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org