FLORENCE, S.C. — Jacqueline Lawson watched it all unfold pretty much live right before her eyes.
The Florence native was on the set of SEC Now in Charlotte preparing for the SEC Network’s coverage of the men’s basketball tournament in Nashville when things literally came to a halt.
“We’re rolling on all of these cameras and you look and there’s (Kentucky) coach (John) Calipari and he walks into his huddle and says, ‘All right, let’s go,’” Lawson recalled. “They all just start walking off the court, and that’s when we knew at least that the SEC Tournament had been canceled.
“Of course, after that it all just kind of kept snowballing.”
It turned out to be the beginning of the end, so to speak, in terms of a normal day at the office for the Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School alum, who has been a media operator with ESPN since 2018.
“They have completely shut down our work in Charlotte at ESPN and our entire department basically,” Lawson said. “We have no shows and no sports because we basically cover only the SEC out of Charlotte, and they’ve all been canceled.
“It’s definitely a weird time.”
In the meantime, Lawson and everyone associated with the network are doing what they can from home.
“I watch what I can,” she said. “We have SportCenter that we send a little bit of production to, b-roll and things like that, but you can’t really do what you do to do from home.”
There are plans in the works for some shows to be done by the on-air talents from their homes, Lawson said, but getting them on television might be another matter.
“It’s all very different for us, because in order to put it on the air, we have to be there,” she said. “So I think it’s all just up in the air at this point. There’s a lot that we don’t know. Is football season going to be pushed back? We don’t know, and it’s just a really weird time not to have any sports.”
The early cancellation of the NCAA spring sports seasons came as a bit of surprise, Lawson added, considering how early it happened.
“To cancel the College World Series before the season was even canceled — I just never thought that sports would be canceled,” she said.
It was tough finish to a year that Lawson had thoroughly enjoyed to this point. Aside from SEC duties, she covered a number of football games, including the Harvard and Yale game.
“All I had really ever known was the SEC,” said the University of South Carolina alum. “So I still get to have my little niche of the SEC, but I also get to cover a lot more.”