Behind The Scenes

Playing host for the WNBA draft

Brian Boyle

Later this year, ESPN producer Brian Boyle hopes to complete the New York City marathon in under four hours.

His task Monday also will test his stamina. He’ll be producing 150 minutes of live television from his backyard as the WNBA draft unspools — for the first time — in Bristol, Conn. The event, which begins airing on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET with a simulcast on, marks the first time a pro sports league has conducted its draft on ESPN’s campus.

ESPN will be the temporary home to hundreds of athletes, coaches, media, and athletes’ friends and family. They will be spread throughout various campus buildings, with the main show telecast from Studio E. The 12-team league will make 36 selections, with a mere three minutes allotted between picks.

In addition to knowing what’s happening on campus Monday, Boyle is keeping an eye on Minneapolis that afternoon. There, the hometown Lynx are expected to make Connecticut forward Maya Moore the top pick. A live shot from the Target Center will be added to the telecast.

“Drafts are their own animals. You have to have a really good plan going in, and then react the best you can,” said Boyle, who has worked in various capacities on ESPN telecasts of the NFL and NBA drafts as well as previous WNBA selections shows.

The three minutes between WNBA picks will help the show move at a swifter pace than other drafts, but there might be a downside to that schedule.

“Especially in the first round, you may have to be more precise about things because of the smaller [time] window, ” he said, “so that you’re not killing yourself to fill long windows between picks.”

As the telecast’s producer, Boyle is charged with “overseeing the talent, making sure they know what they’re doing, when. All the videotape and graphics, coordinating all these things together.”

He’s quick to laud director Tom Lucas, studio director Ty Frison, senior coordinating director Aaron Coleman and production coordinator Thomas Kintner for their help, among others.

“What’s been smooth is working between people in studio and event production,” Boyle said. “This is kind of a hybrid event, and we’re working really well together.”

Boyle produced the second and third rounds of the 2010 WNBA draft, which was staged in Secaucus, N.J. at the NBA’s studios.

Boyle is celebrating his 11th anniversary with ESPN this week. He’s come a long way from his first job out of Colgate, working in various posts for the Baltimore Bay Runners of the International Basketball League.

“I had to find slightly more stable employment,” he said.

After ESPN’s telecast of the first round, ESPNU and NBA TV will air the second and third rounds from 4-5:30 p.m. ET.

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