New video boards will be installed at the basketball and hockey venues at Niagara University, thanks to a $1 million donation by an alum.
The university announced Tuesday that Bill McKnight's gift means the video replay boards will be installed in the Gallagher Center, the Purple Eagles' basketball arena, and Dwyer Arena, where Niagara's hockey team plays. Two of the high-definition LED video screens will be installed in the basketball arena, with the other planned for the ice rink.
In addition, the donation includes money to purchase a TV production truck to train students in video production.
It also will make it possible for Niagara to produce sports telecasts that will meet network quality standards, so they can be streamed on ESPN's website and mobile apps.
McKnight and his wife, Kathy, did not attend the news conference on campus.
"They said, 'It's not about us,' " Niagara spokesman Thomas Burns said.
"I just can't thank them enough for this transformational gift," Athletic Director Simon Gray said.
McKnight graduated with a business degree from Niagara in 1966.
Breanne Guevara, a junior soccer player from Toronto, said Niagara players notice when they go on the road and see video boards in opposing venues.
"Walking onto the field is very intimidating, and it adds a certain amount of prestige to the game," she said.
The video boards can be used to generate revenue through advertising for sponsors of Niagara athletics.
The TV production training will open up another area of education for students majoring in communication studies, sports management and others who join the production team.
"It's going to be really cool for our kids to be able to state on their resumes when they graduate, 'Produced content for the ESPN family of networks,' " said Timothy Ireland, university provost.
Students will learn how to work as camera operators, technical directors, assistant directors, graphics producers, video and replay operators, and sideline reporters.
Such arrangements have become typical at Division I schools in recent years.
Kyle Barker, a junior sports management major who shoots video for Niagara's athletic communications department, is excited about the new equipment.
"This gift is just a huge step forward for us," he said.
The McKnights have been longtime supporters of Purple Eagle athletics.
McKnight is president of Automated Petroleum and Energy Co., based in Brandon, Fla., which owns more than 300 gas stations in Florida.