Roundup: Pacers hire e-sports director, former Star reporter pens IU book

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The Score's latest roundup starts with a new leader on the (virtual) court:

Pacers hire Hoosier native as e-sports director

Pacers Sports & Entertainment announced Wednesday it has hired Evansville native Robert “Cody” Parrent as the director of e-sports operations. 

The Pacers NBA 2K League team is one of 17 from the NBA that will participate in the league’s inaugural competitive video-gaming campaign in 2018.

“Cody brings solid competitive gaming experience in many eSports titles such as Halo, CS:GO, FIFA, and NBA 2K,” Pacers Senior Vice President Kelly Krauskopf said in a statement. “He has built numerous connections in the NBA 2K community through his background in developing the 2K Lab which focuses on analyzing data from the NBA 2K video game franchise in order to give players an edge over the competition. We are fortunate to have him leading our operation.”

“I have been involved in the eSports community since 2006 and am passionate about being a part of the movement of competitive gaming into the mainstream,” said Parrent, who earned both a bachelor's degree in marketing and MBA from the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. 

Parrent’s professional experience includes a stint at Berry Plastics Corp. as a business analyst and most recently as co-owner of Blue Commerce LLC, a market research and e-commerce business.

In the e-sports league, the NBA e-teams will be composed of five human players—mostly likely including professional video gamers—competing in five-on-five games stretching out over the course of an actual NBA season. There also will be playoffs and a crowned champion.

Professional sports teams over the last five years have been angling for a way to become more involved in sports video gaming. NBA officials think it’s a good way to cultivate new fans and market their sport to the growing legion of e-sports fans. And it also could represent a new revenue stream.

Earlier this year, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver indicated the league would have a draft, be played in NBA venues and have a spectator component.  

Former Star reporter pens IU hoops book

Longtime Indiana University basketball beat writer Terry Hutchens, who spent more than 15 years covering IU for the Indianapolis Star and now writes for more than a dozen papers in the Community Newspapers Holdings chain, has co-written a book, “The Indiana Hoosiers Fans’ Bucket List."

The book, which sells for $15.95 online, is co-written by Bill Murphy.

In the book, Hutchens and Murphy put together a reference guide for things Hoosiers fans should see and do.

The overview to the book reads: “Every Indiana Hoosiers fan has a bucket list of activities to take part in at some point in their lives. But even the most die-hard fans haven't done everything there is to experience in and around Bloomington, Indiana. From visiting the campus to copying Keith Smart's jump shot to win the 1987 national championship, author Terry Hutchens and Bill Murphy provide ideas, recommendations, and insider tips for must-see places and can't-miss activities near Assembly Hall.

"But not every experience requires a trip to campus; long-distance Hoosiers fans can cross some items off their list from the comfort of their own homes. Whether you're attending every home game or supporting the Hoosiers from afar, there's something for every fan to do in The Indiana Hoosiers Fans' Bucket List.”

Learfield, IMG College planning merger

There's good news for advertisers who'd prefer a one-stop-shop for all their college sports advertising and sponsorship needs.

The college sports marketing and media companies Learfield and IMG College have agreed to a merger, multiple news sources have repored. The deal has not yet been signed.

The industry has been highly fragmented, making it difficult for companies that wanted a nationwide college sports presence to have that without signing deals with myriad schools and agencies.

Those two companies are already the biggest two players on this field. The combined firm would represent more than 200 schools—including Indiana and Purdue.

IndyCar Series bringing fans action in virtual reality

IndyCar Series officials have signed a deal with Mandt VR to capture part of the 2018 season in virtual reality. 

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal will give fans behind-the-scenes virtual reality access at races including the Indianapolis 500, Bommarito Auto Group 500 and the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

The exclusive content will be available through, the series' Facebook page and YouTube channels.

“By providing a new medium for consuming IndyCar content, we hope to encourage future generations to carry on the tradition of racing culture,” Mandt VR co-founder and CEO Neil Mandt said in a statement.

The first virtual reality content will give fans a perspective of what it’s like in a driver’s seat of an IndyCar race car, see what’s happening in the grandstands at races, and get a deep behind-the-scenes look at the work of IndyCar mechanics.

“IndyCar will continue its momentum by engaging present fans while seeking new and younger audiences,” IndyCar Chief Marketing Officer C.J. O’Donnell said in a statement. “Social media, video content, and now virtual reality will be central to this strategy. By partnering with MANDT VR, we will deliver highly immersive experiences for fans of all ages. I am certain this will bring them closer to the speed and excitement our sport delivers.”

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