Sport Mangement  News

Inaugural Berlin Sport Analytics Symposium Highlights Rising Importance of Data in Sport

Four individuals posed in a conference setting
Andrew Berlin with four Syracuse University sport analytics majors and Berlin Scholars who presented their senior thesis research posters at the event. L-R: Charles “CB” Garrett IV, Cody Barbuto, Andrew Berlin, Justin Perline, Evan Weiss.

“Calculating the Future of Sports Through Analytics” was the featured theme of the Inaugural Andrew T. Berlin Sport Analytics Symposium, hosted by Syracuse University’s David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics on April 3 at the Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago.

Now more than ever, information and data are driving the sports industry, the fifth largest economic sector in the U.S. economy that generated slightly less than $500 billion in 2016-17. Scouts and agents rely on sport analytics to identify unusual talent and athletic capabilities. Performance data helps professional athletes monitor fitness and predict likelihood of injury. Sport marketing executives value data analytics to improve the fan experience.

The Berlin Sport Analytics Symposium brought together leading industry innovators and Syracuse University faculty members to take a closer look at the critical issues in sport analytics. Chicago Cubs senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting, Jason McLeod, gave the keynote address. McLeod began his front-office career with the San Diego Padres and served as scouting director for the Boston Red Sox.

A panel discussion was moderated by Michael D. Veley, founding director and chair of Falk College’s Department of Sport Management at Syracuse University, and the Rhonda S. Falk Endowed Professor of Sport Management, with remarks from Dr. Rodney Paul, sport analytics program designer, director, professor, Syracuse University. Panelists included:

  • Dafna Aaronson, founder, Be Sports Minded;
  • Sean Ahmed, analyst, research and development, baseball operations, Chicago Cubs;
  • Kevin Brilliant, business strategy and analytics senior manager, Chicago Bulls;
  • Dr. Shane Sanders, sport analytics associate professor, Syracuse University;
  • Dr. Robby Sikka, professor, associate director, data analytics for sports medicine, Mayo Clinic, and;
  • Hart Zwingelberg, manager, business intelligence, Chicago Fire Soccer Club.

Berlin Scholars participated in a senior thesis poster presentation during the pre-event reception. The featured student presenters included Syracuse University sport analytics seniors Cody Barbuto, Charles “CB” Garrett IV, Justin Perline, and Evan Weiss. Falk College’s Department of Sport Management also presented the inaugural “Pioneer in Sport Analytics Award” honoring Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs.

Falk College’s bachelor of science in sport analytics provides students with a deep understanding of math, statistics, research methodology, sport economics, database management, finance, and computer programming. The degree incorporates a mandatory foreign language requirement to prepare students for the global sport industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job market for various data analyst disciplines is growing at 27 percent annually, far exceeding the national job growth average of 11 percent.

Since it was launched in 2016, sport analytics at Syracuse has celebrated many successes. The program has established student-industry collaborations with EDGE10, XFL, Spotted, and Syracuse University Athletics. Students have secured professional job placements prior to graduation with teams in Major League Baseball and the National Football League. Students and faculty have published and presented research internationally, most recently at the European Sports Economics Association Conference in Liverpool, England. In addition, they have competed and placed in prestigious industry and academic competitions, including SABR Diamond Dollars Case Competition, MIT Sloan Sports Analytics, ACC Meeting of the Minds, and the NFL’s inaugural Big Data Bowl earlier this year.

In addition to a bachelor of science in sport analytics, Falk College’s academic portfolio of programs in the Department of Sport Management includes sport management (BS), and sport venue and event management (MS). For more information about Falk College, visit

The Berlin Sport Analytics Symposium event was made possible by the generosity of Syracuse University Trustee and alumnus, Andrew T. Berlin ’83. Berlin is a partner investor of the Chicago Cubs, chairman and owner of its minor league Cubs affiliate, the South Bend Cubs, and chairman and CEO of Berlin Packaging. For more information on the Symposium, visit

Sport Analytics students accepted to Carnegie Mellon Research Experience


Students posed in SPM Lab
Jonathan Bosch ’21 (left) and Alejandro Pesantez ’21
Sport Analytics students Jonathan Bosch ’21 and Alejandro Pesantez ’21 have been accepted into Carnegie Mellon’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Statistics.

The theme is “Data Science in Sports Analytics.” The program provides participants with hands-on experience working with real data, on real problems, in a stimulating, collaborative, and supportive environment.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to develop my sport analytics skills, connect with peers and professionals in the field, and live in an exciting city away from home,” Bosch said. “I’m honored to be chosen for this extremely competitive and prestigious program.”

The Department of Statistics & Data Science at Carnegie Mellon University is world-renowned for the quality and depth of its collaborations with disciplines ranging from astronomy and genetics to neuroscience, education and finance. This summer, participants will take part in a variety of sports analytics projects, some of which are sponsored by professional sports organizations and related companies. Students will have opportunities to learn from guest experts in the field and gain first-hand experience in modern sports analytics.

“This is a great opportunity to expand and grow my research and analytical skills,” Pesantez said. “It’s an honor to represent the Syracuse University sport analytics program.”

The students have worked with Syracuse University Sport Analytics professors Dr. Rodney Paul and Dr. Shane Sanders on research projects while attending classes and being active members of student-run analytics clubs on campus.

“Jon and Alex’s hard work and commitment to research has led to a well-deserved opportunity at Carnegie Mellon this summer,” Paul said. “It’s an excellent program that Jon and Alex will benefit from, and their peers at Carnegie Mellon will certainly be impressed by their skills, work ethic, and character.”

The program runs from June 3 to July 26 at Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus.

Falk graduate students host Orange Guardians charity benefit


Engle family posed with Dino
Syracuse University football coach Dino Babers (left) served as keynote speaker for the Orange Guardians Kickoff fundraiser April 8. The event benefited Griffin’s Guardians, which is named for Griffin Engle, who passed away from brain cancer in 2014. Babers is shown with Griffin’s sister Grace, mother Erin, brother Everett, and father Adam.
Syracuse University’s Sport Venue and Event Management (SVEM) graduate program raised $15,000 during its Orange Guardians Kickoff fundraiser to benefit Griffins Guardians on April 8 at Embassy Suites at Destiny USA in Syracuse. The event included more than 150 attendees, a dinner and reception, entertainment, silent auction, and guest speakers.

Monies raised will support Griffins Guardians, which provides financial assistance to families in Central New York that have a child battling cancer.

“It’s through organizations like Griffin’s Guardians that patients and their families receive the resources they need to fight this disease,” said Syracuse University head football coach Dino Babers. “I commend the Sport Venue and Event Management program for organizing this event.”

This event connected event management courses, including experiential learning opportunities, and social responsibility, which are hallmarks of all academic programs across Syracuse University’s Falk College. The execution of this event is part of the SVEM curriculum that requires students to organize an event to gain hands-on learning experience working in all facets of the sports industry.

“Being involved in all steps of the event planning and management process was a great way to learn and develop as industry professionals,” said Sport Venue and Event Management graduate student Baylee Douglas ’19. “The hands-on experience is truly invaluable. Griffin’s Guardians is such a deserving partner and we really cherished furthering their efforts in bringing awareness to pediatric cancer.”

The students worked on the event as part of their SPM 665 Advanced Event Management class and SPM 635 Marketing Sport Venues and Events class. Students were responsible for all aspects of the event, including selecting the community partner, operations, marketing, hospitality, fundraising, and sponsorships.

“The students decided to plan a different event than what was done in previous years,” said Dr. Gina Pauline, Sport Management associate professor and undergraduate director. “The result was the creation of a top-notch experience for attendees that included guest speakers, cancer survivors and athletes such as Rex Culpepper and Rob Long, specialty food, music, and an incredible keynote speaker. Falk College is proud of our graduate students for bringing awareness to pediatric cancer while helping to raise funds for this very worthy cause.”

Congratulations 2019 Falk Student Research Celebration Winners


Students talk in hall in front of a winning research posterFalk College congratulates the following winners of the 2019 Falk Student Research Celebration:

Undergraduate Winners

Name: Bridget Clark
Kelly Brown, BS; Heather Brubacker, MS, Dietetic Intern; Laura Brown, MS, RD; Baylee Carroll, BS, Dietetic Intern; Elizabeth Gardner; April Hill; Sarah Mihalko, BS; Katie Obojkovits, BS, Dietetic Intern; Madeline Peck; Tanya Horacek, PhD, RD, Professor; Syracuse University, Syracuse NY.
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Tanya Horacek
Title: Process Evaluation of the Healthy Campus Environmental Audits

Name: Olivia Cullen
Madeline Peck; Tanya Horacek, PhD, RD, Professor; Syracuse University, Syracuse NY.
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Tanya Horacek
Title: Assessing Food Insecurity Rates and Effects on a Sample of Undergraduate Students

Name: CB Garrett
Program/Major: Sport Analytics
Faculty Research Mentor: Rodney Paul
Title: Impact of Birthplace on Player Performance in Different Weather Conditions

Graduate Winners

Name: Jennifer Guzzy
Program/Major: Master of Social Work (MSW)
Faculty Research Mentor: Ryan Heath
Title: Extracurriculars and Teachers as a Substitute for Parents: Do they support strong academic outcomes in students without parental involvement?

Name: Madeline Hilton
Program/Major: MSPH Global Health
Faculty Research Mentor: David Larsen
Title: Indoor Residual Spray Campaigns in Community Protection Against Malaria

Name: Ying Zhang
Program/Major: Human Development and Family Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Rachel Razza
Title: Positive Development in Adolescence: the Reciprocal Relationships Between Facets of Self-Compassion and Self-Regulation

Sport Analytics students attend Baseball Research Competition in Phoenix


23 SPM students and faculty pose in conference roomFor the fifth straight year, Syracuse University Sport Analytics and Sport Management students participated in the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics’ Diamond Dollars Case Competition in Phoenix, Arizona, over Spring Break in March 2019. The competition is for undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the country to compete against each other by researching and presenting on a current baseball analytics topic. Presentations were made to a panel of judges consisting of Major League Baseball executives. Five SU teams competed in Arizona in 2019, with two teams winning their respective divisions.

The topic was “Developing a Strategy for Pitching Usage,” and teams were tasked with defining a strategy (or multiple strategies) that MLB teams can follow to assess the optimal way to deploy their pitching assets over the course of a 162-game schedule. Teams had to show how their strategy would impact team run prevention and ultimately team performance. Teams made their presentations by using programs such as R, Excel, and Tableau.

With the help of generous gifts from Mark Lomasky and Andrew Berlin, 25 students competed at this prestigious event. The competition is part of the annual SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix, which featured industry speakers, as well as a networking event and job fair for the students to engage with executives who work in the baseball analytics field. Students attended spring training baseball games and an Arizona Coyotes game. They met with members of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ business analytics team, including SPM graduate Greg Ackerman ’15.

The students were accompanied by Sport Analytics professor Dr. Rodney Paul, Sport Analytics program manager Francesco Riverso, and Sport Management assistant teaching professor David Meluni. The Baseball Statistics and Sabermetrics Club meets every Wednesday at 6pm in Falk Room 400. Email Dr. Paul at for more information.

On a Winning Streak: Syracuse Sport Analytics Students Prove They’re Ready to Storm the Industry


Professor Rodney Paul directs students on computers
Professor Rodney Paul with students in the Milton Conrad Sport Technology Lab.
Assembling a championship-caliber team and a profitable business organization is a challenge that sports owners, executives and managers face every day in the ultra-competitive world of sports. Increasingly, they are turning to data analytics for an advantage. Whether it is predicting player performance, athlete injury recovery or enhancing an organization’s bottom line, analytics is changing the methodology of how teams, leagues and sport managers are competing to make better, quantifiable decisions.

Sport analytics is a growing segment of the industry, where many young, aspiring sport professionals are choosing to make a career. They’re data-driven—and they’re catching the eye of sports teams all over the world.

Evan Weiss, a senior sport analytics student in the Falk College, was hired as a junior to work with the Buffalo Bills during the Fall 2018 semester. He returned to campus in January to complete his degree and will continue working for the Bills after graduation in May. Fellow senior Justin Perline has accepted a full-time analytics position with the Pittsburgh Pirates after interning with the team in summer 2018.

Weiss and Perline are some of the University’s first sport analytics majors. In fall 2016, the program welcomed its first official class as the first undergraduate degree of its kind in the nation. The intensive program with coursework in economics, mathematics and computer programming has attracted competitive students from around the world.

The degree includes a foreign language requirement to prepare students for the international sport industry. Sport analytics students can choose to study abroad in places like Florence, Strasbourg, London and others through Syracuse Abroad. Other global hands-on experiences are also available to students.

In August 2018, Perline presented at a conference in London with senior C.B. Garrett on “Minor League Team Success and Its Impact on MLB Player Performance.” Then Perline spent part of winter break in the Dominican Republic scouting for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Meanwhile, back in Syracuse, fellow classmates Dylan Blechner, Zak Koeppel, Will Friedeman and Cameron Johnson were diligently working on a project for the NFL’s inaugural Big Data Bowl competition. The competition provided participants with access to NFL player-tracking data to create proposals on one of three topics: player speed, game rules and receiver routes. Their entry, “Route Clustering,” placed in the top nine from more than 100 submissions and was one of five entries to receive an honorable mention.

Research, competitions and presentations as individuals and teams are a regular part of student work outside of the classroom, in addition to the required senior thesis. “Celebrity Attraction in the Minors: The Case of Tim Tebow,” a paper by seniors Cody Barbuto, C.B. Garrett and Kyle Liotta, was published by the Journal of Economics and Finance in January 2019.

Barbuto presented another paper, “GINI Coefficients in the NBA,” at the Academy of Economics and Finance conference in Tampa, Florida, in February. Barbuto’s classmate, junior Nick Riccardi, won the student paper competition with his study, “Canadian Hockey League Game-To-Game Performance.” Riccardi also presented his study at the ACC Meeting of the Minds conference at the University of Louisville in March.

Syracuse sport analytics students have wasted no time in putting the University’s young sport analytics degree program on the map. Another milestone in the rapid and successful start to the new program will take place April 3 in Chicago at the inaugural Andrew T. Berlin Sport Analytics Symposium, hosted by the Falk College’s Department of Sport Management.

Learn more about the Sport Analytics program
Read this article on SU News

Falk graduate students host Orange Guardians Kickoff April 8 to benefit Griffin’s Guardians


Syracuse University campus in the summerFalk College sport venue and event management students, in partnership with Syracuse University Athletics, will host the Orange Guardians Kickoff fundraiser with special guest Coach Dino Babers on Monday, April 8 at 6 p.m. at the Embassy Suites by Hilton at Destiny USA. The event will benefit Griffin’s Guardians, a local non-profit organization that supports families affected by pediatric cancer.

The execution of this event is part of the sport venue and event management curriculum, in which students organize an event to gain a direct, hands-on learning experience working in all facets of the sports industry, from operations and logistics to marketing and sponsorships.

Orange Guardians Kickoff will feature live entertainment, silent auction, photo opportunity with the Camping World Bowl trophy. An optional VIP experience includes a photo opportunity with Coach Babers. All guests are encouraged to wear orange.

Inaugural Andrew T. Berlin Sport Analytics Symposium Set for April 3 in Chicago


Calculating the Future of Sports Through Analytics is the featured theme of the First Annual Andrew T. Berlin Sport Analytics Symposium. The event will take place in Chicago on April 3, with a keynote address by Chicago Cubs Senior Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting, Jason McLeod. Analytics professionals from the Chicago-area sports industry and Syracuse University faculty members will take part in a panel discussion and Q&A exploring the innovative ways sport executives are turning to analytics to boost team success.

The event is made possible by the generosity of Syracuse University Trustee and alumnus, Andrew T. Berlin ’83. Berlin is the Partner Investor of the Chicago Cubs, Chairman and Owner of the minor league Cubs affiliate, the South Bend Cubs, and Chairman and CEO of Berlin Packaging. The annual Berlin Symposium will feature leading innovators in sport analytics and hosted at sites across the country with panels of local industry executives and Syracuse University sport analytics professors.

To learn more about the April 2019 lecture, visit the event registration page.

Falk College’s bachelor of science in sport analytics provides students with a deep understanding of math, statistics, research methodology, sport economics, database management, finance, and computer programming. The degree incorporates a mandatory foreign language requirement to prepare students for the global sport in a variety of different possible analytics career paths on the player evaluation side, business side, or both.

SU sport analytics well represented at national economics conference


Nick Riccardi is presenting a power point at the A.E.F. Conference in Tampa, Florida
Nick Riccardi
Sport Analytics major Nick Riccardi ’20 presented his research at the Academy of Economics and Finance (AEF) Conference in Tampa, Florida, Feb. 7-8, 2019. He placed first in the undergraduate student research competition for his paper titled “Canadian Hockey Leagues Game-to-Game Performance.”

“This conference gave me great experience on presenting and writing a research paper,” Riccardi said. “It was beneficial to compete against other undergraduates who are studying similar topics so I could see how I stacked up against them. Also, having to answer questions on my research after the presentation helped me learn how to critically think on the fly.”

Also, Sport Analytics senior Cody Barbuto presented his research on “GINI Coefficients in the NBA” and Sport Analytics associate professor Dr. Shane Sanders presented his research titled “Around the World: Rating Professional Basketball Player and League-Quality by Estimating Player Win-Value Changes across Leagues” at the conference. Syracuse University Sport Analytics professor Dr. Rodney Paul served as a judge on the competition panel. Paul and Sanders served as faculty mentors to Riccardi and Barbuto in their pre-conference research.

“We are proud of Cody and Nick for presenting their research at this prestigious conference,” Dr. Paul said. “They are top students in and out of the classroom, and wonderful representatives from Syracuse University.”

Syracuse students cover Super Bowl LIII Media Week in Atlanta

SU students interview former SU linebacker Cameron Lynch
The students interview former Syracuse linebacker Cameron Lynch, senior captain in 2014, who now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL. Photo courtesy of Deninger.

With help from Falk College professor of practice, Dennis Deninger, and the Orange alumni family, three Syracuse University students made their way to Atlanta and covered Super Bowl LIII Media Week. Read more on the SU News website and in the Daily Orange.

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