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ND installs remote video system at football practice fields

Laura McCrystal | Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Notre Dame began installation Tuesday of a remote video system for its football practice fields, which will eliminate the need for elevated scissor lifts to film practices, according to a University press release.

Junior Declan Sullivan died Oct. 27 after the scissor lift from which he was filming football practice fell. He was a student videographer for the football team.

“I said in the days after Declan’s death that we would do everything in our power to make changes to ensure that such an accident does not happen again — here or elsewhere,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the press release. “This system is at the forefront in a completely new and innovative way.”

The University expects the new video system to be in operation at the LaBar Practice Complex when the football team begins spring practice March 23, according to the release.

The system, designed by XOS Digital, will be the first of its kind and include four Panasonic cameras mounted on 50-foot poles, the release said. Three of the poles will stand at the south ends of the three practice fields, with the fourth pole at the north end of field No. 1.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said student videographers would still manually film from the permanent towers and work to edit and produce films.

Brown said Notre Dame began to work with XOS on the new video system in the weeks following Sullivan’s death. The Florida company has installed several systems in Notre Dame facilities in the past 10 years.

“In looking for a way to improve safety in the weeks after the accident, Athletic Department officials asked the experts at XOS Digital about any ideas they might have, particularly in regard to somehow trying to mount a camera on top of a pole that would eliminate the need for hydraulic scissor lifts,” Brown said.

Brown said XOS presented a proposal for the new system in January. Tuesday began the process of installing the cameras, which Brown said are the size of television broadcast cameras, on top of the poles and raising the poles to full height.

The cameras will remain on top of the poles in temperature-controlled units, the press release stated. A fiber-optic network will transmit video to a control room in the Guglielmino Athletic Complex for members of the athletics video services department to edit and produce for players and coaches.

“In bringing its tremendous technology expertise to the table, XOS has worked hand in hand with our football program to form a partnership that now provides a new method of obtaining video materials that our coaches and players utilize,” Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said in the release.

Both Notre Dame and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) are conducting ongoing investigations into the Oct. 27 accident.

IOSHA’s investigation is still in progress, said Stephanie McFarland, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Labor.

“Everything is progressing along the investigative line and there is nothing new to report at this time,” McFarland said. “They’re going to go into the organization and they’re going to essentially look at anything and everything within the scope of the law that they’re allowed to look at in relation to the incident.”

IOSHA investigations result in safety orders when appropriate, McFarland said. These orders reveal findings and inform institutions of citations or fines.

McFarland said she is unable to say when IOSHA’s investigation at Notre Dame will be complete.

“The law does not state anything specific to how quickly an investigation should be concluded,” she said. “They just take as long as they need to do [investigations] properly.”

Brown said Notre Dame also does not currently have additional information to release on its own investigation.

Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves is overseeing the University’s internal investigation, Brown said. This role includes coordinating University personnel and outside experts involved in the investigation.

The University appointed Peter Likins, former president of the University of Arizona and Lehigh University, to conduct the external review of Notre Dame’s internal investigation.

Likins told The Observer in November that his role would include assessing the University’s investigation results.

In addition to creating the remote video system, the release stated that XOS will contribute to the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund established by the Sullivan family.

“We appreciate this wonderful contribution by XOS to the Sullivan family’s memorial fund,” Swarbrick said. “Our staff remembers Declan fondly, and our prayers remain with his family and friends.”

Notre Dame officials are working with the Sullivan family to determine how the University can honor Sullivan’s legacy, the release said.

“We are committed to memorializing Declan’s zest for life and presence at Notre Dame in a meaningful and lasting way,” Jenkins said. “Our conversations with his family members will shape Notre Dame’s memorials of Declan in a manner that give authentic and proper tribute to their son and brother.”