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‘A True Inspiration’

Sport Analytics Students Advance to National Championship in Dallas
From left to right, sport analytics majors Tyler Bolebruch, Marissa Schneider, Nicholas Kamimoto, and Collin Kneiss will compete in the business analytics category at the AXS National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship in Dallas, Texas.

From left to right, sport analytics majors Tyler Bolebruch, Marissa Schneider, Nicholas Kamimoto, and Collin Kneiss will compete in the business analytics category at the AXS National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship in Dallas, Texas.

Four students from Syracuse University’s Sport Analytics program will travel to Dallas, Texas, Feb. 21-22 to compete in the AXS National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship and defend Syracuse’s national title.

Seniors Collin Kneiss, Nicholas Kamimoto, Tyler Bolebruch, and Marissa Schneider will represent Syracuse at the event, which is hosted by the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks at their home arena, the American Airlines Center. The students will compete in the business analytics category; in 2023, Syracuse University won the game analytics category that is not a part of the competition this year.

“They are a true inspiration as they have taken on this challenge, been willing to put themselves in the arena, and continually worked to improve their skills and themselves,” says Rodney Paul, director of the Sport Analytics program and a professor in the Department of Sport Management at the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. “They are role models and leaders to our young students and are incredible representatives of Falk College and Syracuse University.”

The championship in Dallas is the second half of the national competition that includes more than 150 college students from around the country. In the first half, which was held virtually, students were given a prompt and had to prepare and present their analytics work to judges.

“The students in our program are our greatest asset,” says Paul, the team’s coach. “We are so proud of Collin, Nicholas, Tyler, and Marissa and how well they performed and look forward to them demonstrating their abilities on a national stage.”

Collin Kneiss portrait
Collin Kneiss

The trip to Dallas is funded through a gift from Syracuse University Trustee and alum Andrew Berlin ’83, who continues to support sport analytics student-focused initiatives.

Before they traveled to Dallas, we asked Kneiss, Kamimoto, Bolebruch, and Schneider questions about representing Falk College and Syracuse University at this national event, their first-round success, and what they expect in the finals. Here’s what they said:

What’s it like to represent Falk College and Syracuse University at this prestigious national event?

Kneiss (sport analytics and economics dual major with a minor in sport management): Being able to represent Syracuse and Falk College has been an amazing feeling. Syracuse has been a great place to be and has helped me in so many ways, so I’m glad to be able to now represent the University.

Kamimoto (sport analytics and economics dual major and sport management minor): It’s an honor to represent Falk, Syracuse, and the Sport Analytics program at the championships. Syracuse has been my home for the past four years, and it feels incredible to finish my time here by competing at the championships. I have learned numerous skills from my professors at Syracuse that I’ll be able to apply during this event.

Nicholas Kamimoto Portrait
Nicholas Kamimoto

Bolebruch(sport analytics and economics dual major with minors in finance and mathematics): I’m grateful to represent Falk and Syracuse at the national level. I look forward to the four of us having a chance to bring home another trophy for Falk and Syracuse University.

Schneider (sport analytics and economics dual major and sport management minor): I feel incredibly proud that I get to represent Falk, Syracuse, and the Sport Analytics program at the championships. This competition is an experience that I feel very honored to have as not everyone gets to participate in it.

In the first round, can you briefly describe what you did and your reaction when you saw the final standings?

Kneiss: For the first round, we were given data and asked to create a presentation within three days that we eventually presented to two analytics judges over Zoom. When everything was done and I woke up to (congratulatory) emails from many of my professors and advisors, I felt proud of my work and excited that my name was on it.

Kamimoto: In the first round, I created a ticket price-model based on the number of days before an event. I examined how the prices and quantity of tickets purchased changed at all levels of the stadium, depending on whether the tickets were purchased seven days or less before the event or seven days or more before the event. Upon seeing the final standings, I was proud of my achievement and of the entire team as we all finished in excellent positions.

Tyler Bolebruch portrait
Tyler Bolebruch

Bolebruch: In the first round, I created models to show how the demand for tickets shifts as the game gets closer. I felt confident about this analysis, and I expected the four of us to do very well, but to see all four of us in the top 20 with all the students that participated was better than I could have hoped.

Schneider: I was extremely proud of myself and, of course, my peers who also placed in the top standings. I have never done something like this before, so I felt proud of my work and I hope to have the same success, if not better, at the championships in Dallas.

How are you feeling about your chances in Dallas, and do you know what assignment you’ll receive at the competition?

Kneiss: I was extremely nervous coming into this competition, but after seeing my qualifying results, I have become confident with my abilities and my chances in Dallas. We know the data will involve recycling and trash data, so I’ve tried to start brainstorming the possibilities of what I can do and hopefully get ahead early.

Kamimoto: I’m feeling good about my chances in Dallas, and I’ll need to continue to put my best work out there. We know that we’ll be working with an energy and sustainability dataset, and I am excited to get there and get started.

Marissa Schneider
Marissa Schneider

Bolebruch: I feel confident. With our seeding, we have a good chance of finishing as the No. 1 school; now, it’s time to show up and perform. We recently received a study guide and practice dataset for the competition, and it will likely focus on sustainability and energy at different sport venues. So, it will be interesting to see what everyone will come up with for that.

Schneider: I feel confident in my chances, and I also feel confident in the chances of my peers. We have all received a study guide for the championships that says we’ll receive data related to water and waste. The championship is the same format as the virtual rounds as each participant is expected to present a five-minute presentation based on the given prompt that everyone will receive. Each participant is given a few hours to create the presentation that will provide insights for venues to improve sustainability performance.

Students Awarded SOURCE Grants

Sport analytics students Danny Baris, Hunter Kuchenbaur, and Jonah Soos were awarded a Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (SOURCE) grant for $3,150 for their research on “Promotions in Minor League Baseball: An Analysis Across Leagues.” Sport analytics student Marcus Mann was awarded a SOURCE grant for $2,385 for his research on “Data Driven Insights on Tommy John Surgery.”

Baris, Soos, and Mann will present their research at the NINE Spring Training Conference in Tempe, Arizona, in early March and will use their SOURCE grants to fund their trips. Baris, Soos, and Mann will present their research at the NINE Spring Training Conference in Tempe, Arizona, in early March and will use their SOURCE grants to fund their trips. Kuchenbaur is unable to attend as he is traveling with Syracuse University on an immersion class trip overseas.

High Honors

Falk College Students Recognized for Research Achievement
Sarah Dellett presenting her poster at meeting

Sarah Dellett received first prize among students in master’s degree programs at the Mid-Atlantic region of the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in November 2023 for her research under the guidance of Professor Jessica Garay.

Falk College boasts a robust, collaborative research community in which students play an active role. At Falk, graduate and undergraduate students have the opportunity to work directly with faculty to collect data, analyze findings, and draw conclusions on relevant topics surrounding exercise science, human development and family science, marriage and family therapy, nutrition and food studies, public health, social work, and sport management.

Falk students accompany their faculty research mentors to leading academic conferences across the country, and commonly receive high honors for their accomplishments in research. Danny Baris, Sarah Dellett, and Mingxuan (Jessica) Li are three examples of students who have been recently honored for their research.

We asked them to discuss their research and here’s what they shared:

Danny Baris Portrait

Danny Baris ’26

B.S. Sport Analytics

Danny Baris ’26 won the student paper competition at the New York State Economics Association annual conference in October 2023 in Old Westbury, New York, where he presented his research, “Promotions and United States Hockey League Attendance,” under the guidance of Professor Rodney Paul.

“As someone who enjoys attending sports games, the topic of promotions is of great interest to me. For my paper, I wrote about the effects of various types of gameday promotions on attendance for minor league hockey. Through this project, I was able to gain valuable experience conducting a study, writing a research paper, and presenting my findings.

“My findings could be used to help teams set their promotions schedules in ways that maximize revenue. Future research could examine the effects of promotions in other sports leagues. Along with some other students, I am currently working on a project surrounding the effects of promotions across minor league baseball.”

Sarah Dellett

Sarah Dellett

M.A. Nutrition Science

Sarah Dellett received first prize among students in master’s degree programs at the Mid-Atlantic region of the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in November 2023 for her research “Prevalence of and Reasons for Dietary and Supplementation Habits Among Physically Active College Students,” under the guidance of Professor Jessica Garay. Through Sarah’s work in Professor Latha Ramalingam’s Nutrigenomic Lab, where she studies metabolic improvements and genetic differences with omega-3 supplementation, Sarah discovered her ambition to become a clinical researcher in the wide field of nutrition science.

“I loved my statistics and research methods class during my first year and wanted to further hone my analytical skills using R Studio. I linked up with Dr. Garay over the summer to explore her dataset collected on athletes in fall 2020. She helped me critically think through the methodology and correctly describe statistical results for my presentation.
“I found my passion for this project as I’m interested in how sustainable, plant-based diets can be a balanced diet for athletes. This research showed unique developments within vegetarianism, as the most common reason for adopting a vegetarian diet among this cohort is environmental, rather than animal rights reasons. We also found that the vegetarian group had a higher level of nutrition knowledge and had supplementation habits that reflected an understanding of their need to supplement with Vitamin B12 and iron, commonly deficient in vegetarians.”

Jessica Li accepting award at APHA annual meeting

Mingxuan (Jessica) Li

Master of Public Health

In November 2023, Mingxuan (Jessica) Li attended the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, where she accepted the Public Health Education and Health Promotion Student Award on behalf of her fellow students, Michelle Asiedu-Danso and Matthew Scrape. There, Jessica, Michelle, and Matthew were recognized for their research, “Prostate Cancer Screening and Treatment in New York State: A Content Analysis of Articles Published by Newspapers Focusing on People of Color,” completed under the guidance of Professor Bernard Appiah.

“Our goal of this study is to understand how newspapers for people of color discuss prostate cancer, examining both risk factors and media representation. We identified a significant gap in news coverage for people of color on this crucial health issue. Our mission was not just to point out the issues but also to find ways to better share information about prostate cancer in these communities.

“It was a moment of immense honor and pride when standing as the first author and presenter of our project in Atlanta. As we shared our findings and engaged with fellow researchers during the conference, we realized there are potential impacts that our work could have in raising awareness, fostering informed discussions, and shaping future research directions in prostate cancer. We hope our work has positive impacts not only on academic discourse but also inspires ongoing efforts to bridge communication gaps and champion health equity for all.”

When 2 > 3

Deflation: Study Shows NBA 3-Point Shot Has Lost Its Value

Professor Portraits

Sport analytics professor Shane Sanders (left) and Associate Professor Justin Ehrlich will present their research on 3-point shots in the NBA as one of seven finalists in the research competition at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference March 1-2 in Boston.


When the NBA celebrated the start of its 75th season in the Fall of 2021, it was clear that the 3-point shot adopted by the league in 1979-80 had transformed the sport.

The number of attempts beyond the arc had increased in the each of the previous 10 seasons, from 22.2% in 2010-11 to 39.2% in 2020-21, and it had been nearly five years since a team won a game without making at least one 3-pointer (that streak is now up to eight years). Led by 3-point specialists Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors had won three of the previous seven NBA titles and were about to win a fourth in 2022.

It appeared the 3-point revolution would never end. But a recent study by Falk College sport analytics Professor Shane Sanders and Associate Professor Justin Ehrlich shows that while the number of 3-point shots continues to increase, the average expected value of 3-pointers has become less than 2-pointers since the 2017-18 season.

“When taking fouled shots and made free throws into consideration, we found that what had long been a premium for the 3-point shot started to become a dispremium in the 2017-18 season and that trend is continuing,” Ehrlich says. “The implication of these findings is enormous in terms of potential impact on roster construction and offensive philosophies.”

The research preprint from Sanders and Ehrlich, called “Estimating NBA Team Shot Selection Efficiency from Aggregations of True, Continuous Shot Charts: A Generalized Additive Model Approach,” is available through the Social Science Research Network website. Sanders and Ehrlich will present their paper as one of seven finalists in the research competition at the NBA-centric MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference March 1-2 in Boston.

“In past conferences, there has been a lot of discussion among NBA executives about how basketball analytics created the 3-point ‘moneyball’ era of basketball and how this has impacted the popularity of the game,” Sanders says. “Perhaps ironically, our research uses basketball analytics, along with a fully specified team offensive objective function, to say there is now too much 3-point shooting for a point-maximizing offense.”

To conduct their research, Sanders and Ehrlich developed a new shot chart that uses a generalized additive model (GAM) to estimate total shot proficiency continuously in the half-court. Their shot chart incorporates missed shots that draw a shooting foul – and shot-pursuant free throw scoring – to determine total scoring yield following a shot decision.

Current expected value formulas fall short by not including this additional information, which, when combined with the outcome of the initial shot attempt, result in what Sanders and Ehrlich call “true point value” of a shot.

Three research charts showing outlining the results talked about in this article.
The true value data can be found in this dashboard, and in these graphs show the expected and true values of 2- and 3-point shots from 2016-22.
True Value from 2P shot attempts=1.181
True Value from 3P shot attempts=1.094
(2022-23 NBA season)And even when not factoring in free throws, the researchers found that the expected value from 3-point shots are now worth less than 2-point shots:

Expected value from 2P field goal attempt=2P% * 2 = .548 * 2= 1.096
Expected value from 3P field goal attempt=3P% * 3 = .361 * 3= 1.083
(2022-23 NBA season)

According to this research, the expected value from average 2-point field goal attempts (FGA) is now worth 0.013 points more than average 3-point FGA, even before factoring in shot-pursuant free throw scoring. In other words, if you multiply the probability of making a 3-point FGA times the value of a 3-point FGA, it’s worth less than if you multiple a 2-point FGA times the value of a 2-point FGA.

When discussing true point value, the researchers use the term “shot attempts” instead of “field goal attempts” because their formula includes missed shots when a player is fouled, which is not included in standard field-goal attempt statistics. So, when including made and missed free throws, the disparity based on this new true value metric is even greater as average 2-point shot attempts are now worth 0.087 more points than 3-point shot attempts.

Officials from NBA teams and the league have discussed moving the 3-point line back from its current distance of 23 feet, 9 inches (22 feet in the corners). But as this study shows, the value of a 3-pointer is decreasing at the current distance, and teams are already starting to alter their shot selection to emphasize more high-percentage 2-point shots.

“These research findings do not coincide completely with the unresearched musings of NBA analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal,” Sanders says. “For example, our findings do not suggest that such perimeter stars as Stephen Curry or Damian Lillard should not shoot a lot of threes.

“It means marginal stretch fours and other marginal outside shooters should not pull up for a 3 as often and that some marginal outside shooters should not extend their range to 25-26 feet or more,” Sanders says. “Players can still achieve the offensive spacing benefits of positioning on the perimeter without some players shooting from there quite as often.”

Joining the Team

Esports Program Hires Three New Staff Members
Students are sitting at esports computer consoles in a room

Esports gaming room at The Barnes Center at The Arch.

Joey Gawrysiak, executive director of the esports communications and management degree program, has announced the appointment of three new staff members to the program: Nikita Bair, Sean Kelly and Travis Yang”

The new esports communications and management program, which was announced in March 2023, will be offered jointly by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, in addition to new varsity competitive teams under Student Experience. The University will start enrolling students in the fall. These new staff members will help further develop and amplify the offerings of the program.

“We are fortunate enough to bring in some of the top talent, with the most experience in all of collegiate esports, to support the growth and expansion of the esports program here at Syracuse University,” says Gawrysiak. “We will be able to offer a diverse set of programming across different areas of esports and gaming that no other university can offer. I can’t wait to get to work with this group of talented individuals so we can build an exciting and beneficial program for our current and future learners that truly goes beyond gaming.”

Portrait of Nikita Bair
Nikita Bair

Nikita Bair

Bair has been named the esports program manager. Having helped found the first varsity esports program in New England at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, Bair also led one of the oldest esports degree programs at Shenandoah University, where he was a full-time faculty and coordinator of esports. At Syracuse, Bair will focus on academic endeavors, securing partnerships, internships, and travel abroad, while preparing learners for post-graduation by providing ample experiential learning and professional development opportunities for students.

Bair earned a master of business administration in 2023 from Shenandoah University and a bachelor of science in economics and finance in 2021 from Northeastern University. In his studies, Bair specialized in esports and global affairs, earning a concentration in esports from Shenandoah University and a minor in international affairs from Northeastern University.

“The University-wide esports initiative, spearheaded by Chancellor Kent Syverud, speaks volumes to Syracuse’s commitment to becoming a leader in the academic esports landscape,” says Bair. “I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to support the leading esports learners and provide them with the most robust academic esports offerings in the nation. With our team, the students and support from the University, I have no doubt in saying that the space is going to see a lot more Orange very soon.”

Portrait of Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly

Kelly, the newly appointed director of production and outreach, is a leader in the collegiate esports space when it comes to broadcast production. He has led such major projects such as Activision Blizzard’s Calling All Heroes, Behaviour’s Dead by Daylight Mobile: Nights of Terror, and Boost on the Beach, an annual award-winning event. At Syracuse, Kelly will continue pushing the boundaries of what is considered the gold standard in collegiate esports production.

Kelly graduated from Shenandoah University in May 2022 with a bachelor of science in esports management and a bachelor of business administration degree. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to further expand Syracuse University’s esports offerings.

“The holistic approach and ‘all-in’ mentality that Syracuse University has toward the esports program and greater industry is going to lead to amazing developments,” says Kelly. “Syracuse esports is going to be a pivotal player in moving collegiate esports forward and I am excited to be a part of the team from the start. My goal is to take esports production and content creation to a whole new level through student-led projects and industry partners. The sky is the limit for Joey, Nikita, Travis and I!”

Portrait Travis Yang
Travis Yang

Travis Yang

Yang has been named the director of competition. He got his start in collegiate esports as the assistant esports coach for Ashland University, then one of the first 60 esports programs in the country. He transitioned to the head esports coach for Texas A&M University-San Antonio where he developed the first esports program in the Texas A&M system and the city of San Antonio. Prior to Syracuse, Yang served as the director of esports for Wichita State University, providing oversight for a comprehensive esports program focused on academic and competitive outcomes.

Yang received a bachelor of science degree in parks, recreation and tourism from the University of Missouri and is completing a master of education degree in sport management from Wichita State University.

“The commitment from the University toward a comprehensive esports ecosystem speaks volumes to the vision and belief of the institution in the transformative power of this emerging field,” says Yang. “I am honored to join Syracuse and to have the opportunity to build a competitive program that will holistically develop students while competing at a national level I look forward to hitting the ground running and working closely with Joey, Sean and Nikita as we spearhead esports on campus and advance the potential of esports across the country.”

An SU Story by Christine Grabowski originally published on Feb. 7, 2024.

New Dean for Research

Katherine McDonald Appointed Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration in Falk College
Katie McDonald Portrait
Falk College Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration Katherine McDonald.

Katherine (Katie) McDonald, Ph.D., has been appointed Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration in Falk College. As Senior Associate Dean, McDonald is responsible for the oversight of research, administration, and support for faculty; the supervision of the Falk College Office of Research Development; the development and implementation of Falk strategic initiatives; and representing Falk College on University-level committees as appropriate. The office reports directly to Falk College Dean Jeremy Jordan.

“Falk College research spans a wide range of disciplines with impactful, practical applications in individual health and community wellbeing,” Jordan says. “Thanks to Dr. McDonald’s leadership and her team in the Falk College Office of Research Development, the College has experienced steady growth in research activity by every measure, including grant funding, publishing, interdisciplinary collaborations, and student engagement. I am eager to see her influence expand as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration.”

McDonald’s new appointment follows a three-year appointment as Associate Dean of Research. During her tenure, McDonald worked collaboratively to establish programming to nurture faculty research, enhance connections on campus to fuel interdisciplinary research, and develop policy to foster research success.

“I am delighted to continue to serve Falk College in this new role,” says McDonald. “Falk College is home to students, staff, and faculty committed to creating and leveraging scientific discoveries to enhance human thriving. It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with so many talented people to co-chart our future.”

McDonald is a professor in the Falk College Department of Public Health, where she also served as chair from 2018 to 2020. She is a fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, chair of Syracuse University’s Institutional Review Board, and a member of the Editorial Board for Autism in Adulthood. At Syracuse University, she holds faculty affiliations in the Aging Studies Institute, the Burton Blatt Institute, the Consortium for Culture and Medicine, and the Disability Studies program.

As a scholar, McDonald uses socioecological theory and community-engaged research to understand and promote the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. She has made significant contributions to research in disability, health disparities, community-engaged research, and ethical, legal, and social issues in research. Her research has been supported by grant funding from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, Rehabilitation Research, and the Patient Centered Outcomes Institute, among others. She is published in leading journals such as the Disability and Health Journal, American Journal of Bioethics, and the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

She received a B.S. with distinction in human development and family studies with a minor in French from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in community and prevention research psychology with a minor in statistics, methods, and measurements from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Supporting Student Experience

Megan Myers Appointed Assistant Dean of Advancement in Falk College

Megan Myers Portrait

Megan Myers Appointed Assistant Dean of Advancement in Falk College


Megan Myers has been named Falk College Assistant Dean of Advancement effective March 1, 2024. Myers will report to Dean Jeremy Jordan and lead all Falk College advancement efforts working closely with the Syracuse University Office of Advancement and External Affairs (AEA).

Myers joined Falk College’s advancement team as assistant director of development in December 2018 and was promoted to director of development in December 2021. In these roles, Myers successfully managed an assigned donor portfolio, established and managed relationships with Falk College alumni and donors, and collaborated with Syracuse University’s regional fundraising program.

“Megan has an exceptional history of success in creating new strategic partnerships and developing alumni engagement with Falk College,” says Falk College Dean Jeremy Jordan. “From new signature programs to targeted student support funds, Megan’s contributions have meaningfully advanced this College. I am confident that under her leadership we will continue to enrich the student experience.”

Prior to joining Falk, Myers was a development associate in AEA and highly successful as part of the inaugural Development Associate Team established as part of the planning for prospective donor development in the Forever Orange Campaign.

“I am thrilled to have the privilege to support Dean Jordan and advance his vision for the future for Falk College,” says Myers. “I look forward to continuing to build upon the excellent work my predecessor Dave Salanger has already initiated for the College by further developing relationships with alumni, parents, and friends of Syracuse University that create new opportunities for students and faculty.”

Myers previously worked as a development specialist with the Alzheimer’s Association, Nebraska Chapter, where she managed community-based, volunteer-driven events. In her professional career, she held positions with KLKN-TV in Lincoln, Nebraska, serving as a promotions manager and earning recognition as an Emmy-nominated reporter/anchor. She also contributed as an anchor for the weekend news at KEVN-TV in Rapid City, South Dakota, where she played a key role in achieving notable viewer market ratings.

She recently earned a master of public health from Syracuse University and holds a bachelor of arts in broadcast journalism and sociology from The Pennsylvania State University, where she was an Academic All-American and team co-captain for the women’s swimming and diving team.

Myers succeeds David Salanger, who will retire in March 2024. Salanger served 20 years at Syracuse, 18 of those with Falk College. During that time, he made a transformative impact on Falk College through alumni engagement, strategic partnerships, and critical financial gifts.

Among his contributions, Salanger was instrumental in guiding the generous gift from David B. Falk ’72 and Rhonda S. Falk ’74 that named the College in 2011. In addition, he secured the financial support for the renovation of Falk College Complex, previously the College of Law, in 2015. In the course of his service, Salanger raised over $40 million for the University and Falk College.

The Right Touch

Sport Management Club Raises $48,000 at 19th Charity Auction

Standing on football field, 50 students volunteers for SPM Auction

More than 50 students volunteered at the 2023 Falk College Department of Sport Management Charity Sports Auction on Nov. 28, 2023, at the JMA Wireless Dome.

The Sport Management Club at Syracuse University raised $48,000 for Tillie’s Touch as a result of its 19th Annual Charity Sports Auction.

During the Syracuse men’s basketball game on Nov. 28, supporters purchased items and placed bids on sports memorabilia, electronics, jewelry, gift baskets, experiences, books, and trips, among other items. In addition to the in-person event, an online auction was held where online supporters placed bids on hundreds of items.

Tillie’s Touch strives to make children’s dreams of playing a sport possible while helping them to achieve academic excellence. Tillie’s Touch provides the necessary sports and/or school equipment for a child when their family is unable to do so.

Apex Entertainment served as the Title Sponsor for the 2023 auction.

Sport Management seniors standing together on the dome floor.

Sport Management seniors Jacob Geisinger, Zach Roth, and Alex Grossman (from left) served as co-chairs for the 2023 event.


The SPM Club is a student-run organization in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics’ Department of Sport Management.

Since its founding in 2005, the club has raised more than $712,000 for local charities. Previous beneficiaries of the club’s annual charity auction include Boys & Girls Clubs, Golisano Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of CNY, the Central New York SPCA, the Upstate Cancer Center, Special Olympics New York, Food Bank of CNY, the Salvation Army, Rescue Mission Alliance, American Diabetes Association, Make A Wish CNY, Meals on Wheels, the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation, McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, and Vera House.

“Our Sport Management Club was founded on the principles of teaching our membership the value of civic engagement, community service, and social responsibility through sports,” says Michael Veley, Rhonda S. Falk endowed professor and director of Sport Management, who also serves as the organization’s faculty advisor. “The countless hours of dedication by these students to ensure that the proceeds from our charity auction would benefit our community is extremely gratifying.”

The Sport Management Club meets weekly during the academic year. For more information about the annual Charity Auction, visit X/Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or the Charity Sports Auction website.

To promote the auction, student organizers appeared on WSYR’s Bridge Street program, WSYR NewsChannel 9, and WTVH/CNY Central.

Paying It Forward

Steiner Support Fund Now Available to Sport Management Students

Brandon Steiner standing in line with arms around each other, Oswaldo Cabrera and students Tracey Edson and Samantha Messina.

The new Steiner Support Fund is the latest of several ways Brandon Steiner (far right) has given back to Syracuse University. In the Spring 2023 semester, Steiner connected Sport Management student Tracey Edson (second from right) and public relations major Samantha Messina with New York Yankees player Oswaldo Cabrera to create a marketing deck for Cabrera.


When Brandon Steiner proposed a fund to support students in the Department of Sport Management at the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, there was a particular kind of student he had in mind who would most benefit from the fund.


Steiner, who graduated from Syracuse University in 1981 and is now chairman of the Sport Management Advisory Council, grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. His father left the family when he was 5, and while his mother, Evelyn, operated a beauty salon, it was a struggle financially for her to raise Brandon and his two brothers.

Despite a low SAT score, Steiner convinced a Syracuse admissions counselor that she “will never regret letting me in,” he wrote in his 2012 book “You Gotta Have Balls.” Steiner was admitted and his family did receive enough financial aid to pay for tuition, but there was still one problem: He didn’t have any additional money to live from day to day.

Steiner has never forgotten those days. Working with Falk College Assistant Dean for Advancement David Salanger and Sport Management Chair and Director Michael Veley, Steiner has created the Brandon S. Steiner Sport Management Student Support Fund that “supports health, housing, education, and overall wellbeing of Syracuse University undergraduate students enrolled in the Department of Sport Management in Falk College.”

“Look at a kid like me,” Steiner says. “I was willing to work full-time in college; otherwise, going to Syracuse probably wouldn’t work. If I just went up and wasn’t willing to work full-time–and I’m not talking about work study, I’m talking about a 40-hour-a-week job–I don’t think I could have made it up there.

“But I don’t know if that can work in today’s age,” he continues. “I want to focus on poorer kids who have something special going on and if we can get them additional help, they would come.”

The Steiner Student Support Fund awards support for a single academic year, and students can apply for funds by completing this survey. A student can’t be awarded funding more than twice.

Brandon Steiner (right) and New York Yankees player Oswaldo Cabrera meet with Sport Management students to discuss marketing strategies.

Brandon Steiner (right) and New York Yankees player Oswaldo Cabrera meet with Sport Management students to discuss marketing strategies.


Students in the Department of Sport Management, including sport analytics and sport venue and event management students, are encouraged to apply for internships and work as much as they can in the sport industry while they’re attending school. As part of their degree requirements, they complete a 12-credit Senior Capstone with a full-semester experience at a sport organization.

With the rigorous demands of the program, it can be difficult for students to work the kind of hours that Steiner worked as a student to help pay for food, housing, fees and supplies, and other critical student needs. Steiner says he hopes his fund will help all students, but particularly underrepresented students who, like Steiner, might need support but are future stars in the sport industry.

“We have to make it easier for them to come here,” Steiner says. “And the reality is, the teams, leagues, and players are all diverse and we want to be diverse with the students we’re sending into the industry.”

At Syracuse, Steiner attended the Whitman School of Management because his mother suggested he major in accounting. Utilizing his work ethic, ingenuity, and ability to make an impression on people, Steiner served as founder and chairman of Steiner Sports Marketing and Memorabilia for more than 30 years.

In 2019, he launched two new companies: The Steiner Agency, the nation’s premiere independent athlete procurement source, and Collectible Xchange, an online platform for fans, collectors, store owners, celebrities, athletes, and teams to buy and sell collectibles.

The Steiner Student Support Fund is the latest way Steiner has given back to Syracuse University and Falk College’s Sport Management program, which he played a key role in creating more than 20 years ago. He says attending Syracuse “gave me the biggest break I ever got,” and he wants his fund to provide opportunities for students like him who will become the next generation of sports marketing trailblazers.

“There’s nothing like the feeling of pride you get from passing the torch to the next generation,” Steiner wrote in his book. “I can’t wait to see all the innovative products they come up with.”

In addition to the Steiner Student Support Fund, there are other opportunities and awards available to students in Falk College. Please visit the Awards and Scholarships page on the Falk website for more information on how to apply.

‘An Exciting Time’

Looking Ahead to a Big Year in Esports at Syracuse and Beyond
Braden Cheverie-Leonard celebrates at the gaming console in the esports gaming room.

Falk College Department of Sport Management student Braeden Cheverie-Leonard ’26 (left), a member of the Syracuse University esports team, celebrates in the esports gaming room at the Barnes Center at The Arch.

Syracuse University launches its new esports communications and management program in 2024. This first-of-its kind offering at a major university is a partnership between the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.

As we get ready for a big year for esports at Syracuse, program director Joey Gawrysiak looks ahead at three trends for the industry in 2024 – and beyond.

“We are going to build on the strong foundation of academic excellence at Syracuse while making sure our esports students achieve competitive success and learn the skills needed for a rewarding career in a thriving field,” Gawrysiak said.

“There is so much potential here – it’s an exciting time to be involved in esports,” he added.

The Big Business of Esports

According to Yahoo Finance, the esports industry was valued at $1.39 billion in 2022, and the value is expected to grow by roughly 16% each year through 2030. Increasing accessibility and inclusivity in esports, especially in mobile and PC gaming, will account for a large portion of this growth, especially with the development of 5G connectivity.

Joey Gawrysiak Portrait
Executive Director of Esports Joey Gawrysiak.

Opportunities Abound

Collegiate esports are growing in terms of number of programs and the size of programs at each school. A record 82% of colleges or universities with esports programs reported an increase in the size of their program in 2022, according to a study by Esports Foundry. As these programs grow and new programs start at institutions around North America, student engagement opportunities and job openings should expand, too.

Establishing a Foothold

More than half of all college programs have been around three years or more, a sign that the scholastic esports ecosystem is rapidly maturing and becoming more sustainable, according to Esports Foundry. This shows recognition by administrators and educators who are investing in esports programs as destinations for students interested in career opportunities.

Gawrysiak arrived from Shenandoah University, where he developed one of the first esports degrees in the country, to establish the new program at Syracuse. Falk boasts thriving sport management and sport analytics programs, along with scholarship in public health, social justice and equity.

Newhouse has been a leader in the space as one of the first schools in the country to offer courses in esports and communications.

“I’m looking forward to what’s in store at Syracuse and having the chance to work with students thinking about a career in esports,” Gawrysiak said. “We’re going to create a dynamic, inclusive environment and strong sense of community in our program.”

A Winning Team

Sport Analytics Students Partnering with Syracuse Athletics to Prevent Injuries, Improve Performance
Mike Mangano portrait

Mike Mangano, associate athletic trainer for the Syracuse University men’s basketball team, was a driving force behind the partnership between Syracuse Athletics and the Department of Sport Management that has allowed sport analytics students to provide crucial performance data to 11 of Syracuse’s men’s and women’s athletic teams.

As the associate athletic trainer for the Syracuse University men’s basketball team, Mike Mangano says he’d much rather spend his time preventing injuries than treating them.

That’s why Mangano has fully embraced the partnership between the University’s Athletics Department and the Department of Sport Management in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics that’s allowing nearly 50 students majoring in sport analytics to provide real-world data to assist the coaching and athletic performance staffs of 11 of Syracuse’s men’s and women’s athletic teams.

The specifics vary from sport to sport, but in general most students are collecting performance data from the student-athletes’ wearable devices; analyzing that data from training, practices, and games; and interpreting that data to provide insights to coaches and staff.

When Mangano was an assistant athletic trainer for the men’s soccer team, he says that kind of data helped coaches determine the optimum workload for each player. Once the players started maintaining that weekly goal, soft tissue injuries decreased.

“So, for me, it’s great. I don’t have to do as much work,” Mangano says, laughing. “But at the same time, my philosophy is, do the work on the front end. If you can prevent injuries–and obviously you can’t prevent them all–but if you can prevent most of the injuries and add that kind of education for the student-athletes and coaches, then (the analytics) are working for us.”

The genesis of this partnership between athletics and analytics can be traced to Mangano’s interest in analytics and sport performance and conversations he had with Francesco Riverso, the program manager for the Sport Analytics program and a former soccer standout at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. Riverso encouraged Mangano to earn his Certificate of Advanced Study in sport analytics, which Mangano did last year, and they arranged for sport analytics students to start collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data for the men’s soccer team in 2022.

Sport analytics students also started working with the women’s lacrosse team last season. The men’s soccer team won the 2022 Division I national championship, while the women’s lacrosse team reached the 2023 Division I Final Four.

Ian McIntyre shakes the hand of another student athlete

Men’s soccer head coach Ian McIntyre.

“The role of our student analysts has been integral to our program’s success,” says men’s soccer head coach Ian McIntyre. “The student analysts are responsible for collecting and interpreting all GPS data, and to provide detailed post-match and post-training reports. These reports are presented to the coaching staff with concise information that enables us to make objective decisions around training load and managing student-athletes’ minutes in games.

“In addition to the GPS data, the student analysts provide half-time and post-match reports of pre-determined categories that allow us to see how we are playing, and how we can make the necessary adjustments,” McIntyre adds.

The partnership expanded this academic year to include the following teams: women’s and men’s basketball, field hockey, football, ice hockey, women’s and men’s lacrosse, women’s and men’s soccer, softball, and track and field. Tommy Powell, assistant provost for student-athlete academic development at Syracuse, says the sport analytics students are available to all athletic teams and the athletic department plans to make this a long-term arrangement with the Sport Analytics program.

“This collaboration represents an exciting opportunity to merge the worlds of athletics and data analysis, further enhancing our ability to make informed decisions and drive success both on and off the field,” says Syracuse Director of Athletics John Wildhack. “Together, we will harness the power of analytics to gain a competitive edge and propel our student-athletes and teams to new heights.”

Rodney Paul, director of the Sport Analytics program and a professor in the Department of Sport Management, says the partnership provides sport analytics students with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to apply the data analytics skills they’re learning in class.

“It not only provides the students with real-world experience in sports but gives them the chance to see it applied directly to the University sports teams they already love and support,” Paul says.

There are currently 10 students working with the men’s basketball team, and Mangano says that group includes freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors so they can “continue to keep that ladder going” in future seasons.

“For the students, they get real-life experience and can build their professional skills and resume by learning how to deliver that information to a real person,” Mangano says. “And it’s huge for us because, practically, we can’t pay 10 analytics people to come in and work us.”

To get a better understanding of this partnership, we talked to three sport analytics students about their roles with the Athletics Department. Here are their stories:

Two students in a soccer field study a laptop screen

Dan Griffiths reviews performance data with track and field student-athlete Elizabeth Bigelow ’26, who competes in the mile, 1000-meter, and 800-meter events.

Dan Griffiths: Track and Field

Griffiths is a sophomore who was born in England and moved the United States with his family when he was 5. They moved again to Boston when he was 12, and in high school he participated in soccer and track and field (the decathlon and 400-meter dash were his two best events).

When he arrived at Syracuse University, he quickly learned that sport analytics majors are encouraged to apply for internships. With the partnership between athletics and analytics growing, and because of his love of track and field, Griffiths reached out to head coach Brien Bell to ask if he could work with the track and field and cross country teams. The teams hadn’t previously used a performance data analyst, and Bell welcomed Griffiths aboard and gave him the freedom to explore how to collect and analyze the data.

“My whole goal was to try to take their training data and make some predictions about how they can optimize their training to prevent injuries, make sure they’re not overtraining, and make sure they’re peaking at the optimal times at the end of the season for those big competitions,” Griffiths says.

When Griffiths started, the teams didn’t utilize a data-gathering system, but the track and field and cross country student-athletes were using Garmin wearables to track their own data. So, Griffiths built his own application and a tool that can transport all their data into his application, which then creates spreadsheets he can use to analyze that data.

“It’s not like an app you can download from the app store. It has an interface only I can see and it’s in partner with Garmin, the maker of the watches and owner of the data,” Griffiths says. “I was in contact with them for two weeks, figuring out how I can get connected and use their API (Application Programming Interface) and integrate that into my application.”

As an example of how he uses the data, Griffiths cited a female long-distance runner whose hardest training month based on heartrate was July, but as she built up her distance in the fall she was losing speed because her heartrate wasn’t at the optimum level. Based on the data Griffiths collected, she altered her training to reduce her miles but increase her heartrate, and that increased her speed and resulted in a personal best in late October.

“This is exactly why I came to Syracuse,” Griffiths says. “When I was on the tour (of campus), the tour guide said that sport analytics gets to work with some of the teams, and I thought the basketball team and the football team, and that’s going to be awesome.

“I didn’t really think I would be able to do it for the track team, and I didn’t see it as a possibility back then,” he continues. “But after my first year, I was very committed to being a part of the team and I saw that I could have this opportunity as long as I had the initiative to take it on myself.”

A women stands in the middle of a basketball court in a large stadium.

Danielle Napierski at the JMA Wireless Dome, where she attends practices and games to collect data on the Syracuse women’s basketball team and its opponents.

Danielle Napierski: Women’s Basketball

Napierski is a sophomore from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, who’s a dual major in sport analytics and mathematics. As she was presented with this internship opportunity, Napierski had several reasons why she preferred the women’s basketball team.

“The coaches were open to having students who were passionate about working with this type of data metrics and analysis, and this was a perfect opportunity to start utilizing my knowledge and applying what I learned in the classroom,” she says. “This team is also a great community because the coaches are very flexible, appreciative, and open to anything that can help the team out.

“Lastly, I wanted to change the ratio of how men’s sports get the majority of the attention because these women work extremely hard to be where they are today and deserve recognition for their talent,” Napierski adds.

Napierski started working with the team in December 2022 with a sport analytics graduate student and they tracked the team’s number of passes per possession for each game. Over the summer, she had an internship in a collegiate baseball league and one of her co-interns was the current head manager for the women’s basketball team, senior sports analytics major Hayden Wasserman, who told Napierski that the team was looking to expand its analytics crew.

Once August rolled around and the team started practicing again, Wasserman reminded head coach Felisha Legette-Jack of Napierski’s interest in a career in sport analytics, and Legette-Jack invited Napierski to join this year’s team. To collect data, Napierski attends two or three practices a week, spends about five hours per week rewatching practices, and rotates with other managers at games collecting live statistics from Syracuse and its opponents.

“When the women are scrimmaging during practice, we create shot charts that we later put into (the computer program) RStudio and report back to the coaches so they can see how each individual is shooting from everywhere on the court,” Napierski says. “We do the same thing when we create scouting reports for our upcoming opponents, just so we can sense where each player likes to shoot and how efficient each player is.”

Napierski says her career goal is to work for an NBA or Major League Baseball team, or for either league. She grew up playing basketball, but switched to softball when she was older and enjoys working with both sports.

“Being a student manager for the (women’s basketball) team and working with data frequently will help me achieve my goal because any analytics position in any field looks for the same skillset in their applicants,” she says. “I have two more years of classes that will expand my knowledge of the industry, and this current position is the foundation of seeing how I can perform in this field and how I can grow for future full-time positions.”

A student sits with a computer at a desk

Caden Lippie analyzes Syracuse women’s lacrosse data in the team’s film room.

Caden Lippie: Women’s Lacrosse

A sophomore from Beverly, Massachusetts, Lippie has played soccer and ultimate frisbee in high school, and basketball in recreation leagues. Lacrosse wasn’t on his radar until Riverso sent out an email saying that the women’s lacrosse team was looking for sport analytics students to help analyze data from the student-athletes’ wearables.

That was last fall, and by late January Lippie was collecting and interpreting data, and by late May he was traveling with the team to the Final Four at the University of North Carolina. The team wanted to expand its use of training data because several players had suffered serious knee injuries in recent years and head coach Kayla Treanor was seeking information that might help inform their optimum workload.

“VX Sport is the wearable company, and they have units that the players wear for practices and games,” Lippie says. “Our role last year was to take those units and upload the data collected on them to a database on a computer and that data was sent to a representative from VX Sport who interprets that and goes over practice plans with the coaching staff.”

This year, Lippie will have an opportunity to expand his role as he’ll have access to practice and game footage and scouting reports and can explore using analytics in other ways to help the team.

“Incorporating sport analytics students into our women’s lacrosse program has been a game-changer, empowering us to make informed decisions and enhance our players’ performances,” Treanor says.

Lippie says he appreciates the flexibility that the team has provided, and the experience will be invaluable as he zeroes in on his career goals.

“What I appreciate most about this experience is that the (analytics) staff is relatively small compared to some of the other sports, so I’m able to do every aspect of analytics,” he says. “That’s the on-the-field analytics, the injury-prevention side, maybe less so with roster-building right now, but that could be an opportunity to explore with the team later. So, I’m able to look at all those different parts of analytics and hopefully decide what I like best and specialize in that. Or maybe incorporate all three.”

Syracuse University competes at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics, where the competition is fierce and winning is the bottom line. For both the teams that benefit from the analytics and the students who are doing the work, this partnership is truly a win-win.

“For us in athletics, it has helped build a bridge and expand our resources by utilizing their expertise,” Mangano says. “And for the students, the real-life experience doesn’t get any more real life than this.”

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