Our coverage just got better!

ESPN announced it has reached an agreement to acquire Student Sports, Inc., a premier high school-focused digital media and event production company based in Torrance, Calif.


Prior to joining ESPN a year ago, we were asked to give them a shopping list of what would be needed to provide unequaled content to our customer base.

The four representative schools, (OU, USC, Ohio State and Florida), submitted a shopping list that included a recruit ranking system and an All American All Star game with prospects and participants ranked and selected solely based on talent, not because they committed to a certain high profile school(s); coverage of that All Star game on a major network; a professionally produced national magazine focused on recruiting; a hi-definition video player; film on every high school prospect and the purchase of key assets such as Elite 11 QB Camp and Nike Combines.

Today we are proud to announce that two additional items on that list are now about to migrate to the ESPN banner, as ESPN has completed its’ purchase of Nike Combines and Elite 11.

Over the next few months Gator Country will begin to integrate information from these assets into our site for the benefit of our customers. And our collective efforts will not stop here. More benefits will be added over the next six months.

Thank you for your patience and support of what will be unequaled coverage for college sports fans, spanning television and internet.

–Raymond Hines III

Publisher/Owner of GatorCountry.com

ESPN announced it has reached an agreement to acquire Student Sports, Inc., a premier high school-focused digital media and event production company based in Torrance, Calif.

Founded by grassroots sports marketing and media pioneer Andy Bark, the company’s president and CEO, Student Sports has been a leader in high school sports content for 22 years. Student Sports assets include StudentSports.com and DyeStat.com, and more than 160 events such as Elite 11, Area Code Baseball and Nike Combines/Nike SPARQ Mini Camps, all of which will be integrated into ESPN’s recently announced high school initiative ESPN RISE. In conjunction with the acquisition, ESPN will enter into a licensing and content sharing agreement with SPARQ, the dynamic athletic training and assessment company based in Portland, Ore.

“It is an exciting time for ESPN RISE,” said James Brown, senior vice president, ESPN RISE. “Adding Student Sports to our organization enhances our position in high school sports significantly. This acquisition is in lock step with our goal to celebrate high school athletics, utilizing the expertise across all of our assets – representing a collection of more than 40 years of experience in this space.”

ESPN RISE is a multimedia brand that will deliver high school sports content across all of ESPN’s platforms including programming and events, digital media and publishing.

“Andy Bark has been an innovator and leader in high school content for more than 20 years,” said John Kosner, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Digital Media. “Adding Andy and the Student Sports team will enable ESPNRISE.com to offer rich coverage to fans and athletes across high school sports — a great complement to the assets we have in Scouts, Inc., RISEMag.com and Hoopgurlz.com.”

Bark said: “We have served millions of students who play sports – as well as their parents, coaches and fans – for many years, and to continue to do so as a part of ESPN and its authentic and integrated platforms is a dream come true.”

ESPN RISE represents ESPN’s commitment to providing its core fans, the high school athlete, and its fan base with content that examines and celebrates high school sports in a unique way – across all of ESPN’s platforms. ESPN has a 20-year-history of covering high school sports (1980s) including boys’ and girls’ basketball, football and lacrosse competitions.

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Publisher/Owner -- Back when I was a wee one I had to decide if I wanted to live dangerously and become a computer hacker or start a website devoted to the Gators. I chose the Gators instead of the daily thrill of knowing my next meal might be at Leavenworth. No regrets, however. The Gators have been and will continue to be my addiction. What makes this so much fun is that the more addicted I become to the Florida Gators, the more fun I have doing innovative things to help bring all the Gator news that is news (and some that isn’t) to Gator fans around the world. Andy Warhol said we all have our 15 minutes of fame. Thanks to Gator Country, I’m working on a half hour. Thanks to an understanding daughter that can’t decide if she’s going to be the female version of Einstein, Miss Universe, President of the United States or a princess, I get to spend my days doing what I’ve done since Gus Garcia and I founded Gator Country back in 1996. Has it really been over a decade and a half now?