Sport Mangement

Commitment to developing a new generation of sport analytics professionals inspires $1 million gift from Andrew T. Berlin ’83

Andrew Berlin PortraitWhen Syracuse University’s Falk College launched a new degree in sport analytics in 2016, it was responding to the sport industry’s need for trained professionals able to process and analyze ever-increasing amounts of information to guide data-driven decision making. A $1 million gift by Syracuse University Trustee and alumnus, Andrew T. Berlin ’83, partner owner of the world champion Chicago Cubs and its minor league affiliate, the South Bend Cubs, will make a number of student-focused initiatives in this fast-growing program possible.

“Syracuse University has played a very significant role by providing the foundation for my business success, and this gift is my way of making a commitment to help ensure that students will have the resources to make sport analytics the best program in the country,” says Andrew Berlin. “I believe this cutting-edge program – the first of its kind in the country – will shape the direction of the sports industry for years to come.”

The Berlin gift will provide scholarship and financial assistance to select undergraduate sport analytics students as well as support for faculty research, participation in academic symposiums, and student-focused sports analytical competitions. Berlin Scholars will be selected based on academic proficiency, research skills, and experiential engagement. Outstanding upper-level students interning with professional teams or sport analytics companies will be eligible for participation as Berlin Senior Research Associates to mentor younger classmates and conduct seminars on analytics techniques. Associates will also support sport analytics faculty research that may include co-authoring journal articles and presenting research findings at domestic and international sport analytic and economic academic symposiums.

“As the proliferation of sophisticated analytics in the sport industry continues to transform data-driven decision making, our graduates will provide strong technical and analytical skills sport organizations are seeking to make sound business decisions,” says Falk College Dean Diane Lyden Murphy. “We are grateful for the Berlin family’s generous support that will further escalate Syracuse University’s reputation as a nationally recognized leader in sport management education.”

Plans for a lecture series and creation of an on-campus program for high school students interested in sport analytics are also under development. The annual symposium featuring leading innovators in sport analytics will be hosted across the country, with the inaugural event taking place in Chicago to feature a panel of local industry executives and Syracuse University sport analytics professors. Over time, the symposium will incorporate graduates of the sport analytics program including Berlin Scholars and Berlin Senior Research Associates.

“The gift from Mr. Berlin will further expand the exciting opportunities available for the incredible students in our program,” notes Rodney Paul, professor of sport management and sport analytics program director. “Mr. Berlin serves as a role model for our students, not just from his successes and leadership in the business and sports world, but also in terms of his generosity and care he exhibits as it relates to young people and the future.”

The future Berlin Sport Analytics Academy at Syracuse University will include guest speakers, projects, lectures and activities for high school students. Participants will benefit from gaining first-hand knowledge presented by sport analytics faculty and students while enhancing their analytical problem-solving and presentational skills.

“The generosity of the Berlin family gift allows us to follow our blueprint of recruiting Ivy League caliber students from across the globe,” said Michael Veley, the Rhonda S. Falk Endowed Professor and chair and director of the Department of Sport Management. “Providing opportunities for our students to showcase their analytical and academic skills will allow us to build our brand while providing students with unlimited opportunities outside of the classroom.”

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. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to think conceptually and analytically while applying these principles to real issues in sport organizations. 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.

“Mr. Berlin’s gift is a huge jumpstart to Syracuse University’s sport analytics program,” says Charles Garrett ’19, a dual major in sport analytics and broadcast and digital journalism. “It will provide tremendous opportunities for students to attend conferences and present research, keep facilities state of the art, and adapt with a rapidly growing field to assure we are readily prepared for the 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. The sport industry is the fifth largest economic sector in the U.S. economy, generating slightly less than $500 billion in 2014-15.

“Analytics are integral toward changing on-field baseball strategy and scouting talent,” says Jason McLeod, the senior vice-president of player development and scouting for the Chicago Cubs. McLeod, who is a three-time World Champion in that role with the 2016 Cubs and 2004 and 2007 Boston Red Sox, says “the Syracuse University sport analytics program will offer interdisciplinary skills that will prepare students to become the next generation of analytical thinkers, both from a business and player development perspective.”

Berlin is chairman and CEO of Berlin Packaging, the leading global supplier of glass, plastic, and metal containers and closures. He graduated with a political science degree from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He earned a law degree at Loyola University of Chicago, attended the Executive Program at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, and studied military history at Boston University. A member of the Maxwell School Advisory Board and the Chicago Regional Council, he has supported the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism—a joint endeavor of the Maxwell School and the College of Law—by creating the Andrew Berlin Family National Security Research Fund in honor of Professor Emeritus David Bennett.

“This gift is a giant step forward for the program,” adds Justin Perline ’19, a dual major in sport analytics and newspaper and online journalism. “Having the resources to send students across the country and the world in pursuit of their passions is incredible. And most important, we now have the opportunity to bring Syracuse University’s sport analytics program into the national and international spotlight for everyone to see.”

Falk College’s offering in sport analytics is the newest addition in its academic portfolio of programs in the Department of Sport Management that includes sport management (BS), sport venue and event management (MS) and intercollegiate athletic advising and support (CAS).

Read this article on SU News

Meet Lori Robinson, SPM ’09, learning specialist, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

One of the most impactful points of my collegiate experience at Syracuse was competing as a track and field student-athlete while majoring in Sport Management.

As an undergraduate student, I was very involved in the SU Athletics Department, the SPM program, and on campus in various leadership roles, but as my senior year rolled around, I was unsure if I wanted to attend law school in an effort to work in the front office of a sports league, or work in a player development role with a specific sport team.

For my senior Capstone, Professor Veley persuaded me to accept an internship with Major League Soccer in New York City. My internship experience reminded me how much I enjoyed teaching and connecting with others through education. After graduation, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation (IDDE) at Syracuse. Through that program, I learned the importance of incorporating assessment and evaluation throughout a process, a skill that I use daily. After completing my masters, I served as a Learning Specialist and Assistant Tutor Coordinator in the student-athlete academic support unit at LSU.

I now work as a Learning Specialist at the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center at the University of Tennessee. I am able to combine my passion for education by facilitating independent critical thinking, challenging and supporting student-athletes in an authentic way by sharing my experiences as a student-athlete.

The experience I gained in the SPM program at SU helped to prepare me for a career in sport and I am continuously reminded about the power of connection. The SPM family-type network gives me an opportunity to connect with a variety of people in differing aspects of sport. I have mentors and friends for whom I will forever be thankful. I am proud to be an SPM alumna and will continue to serve the department and university in any way that I can.

Sport Management class partners with Syracuse Crunch

SPM Students meet with the Syracuse Crunch team in a locker roomStudents in the SPM 324 Sport Sponsorship and Promotion class gained real-world experience during the Spring 2018 semester by partnering with the Syracuse Crunch AHL hockey team.

The class focuses on the sponsorship and promotional principles used in marketing sporting events, as well as emphasizes proposal writing, sponsorship solicitation and all the elements of activating a promotional campaign.

“We’re looking forward to providing students with a behind-the-scenes look into the sponsorship process for a professional sports team,” said Syracuse Crunch chief operating officer Jim Sarosy. “We’re honored to have the opportunity to assist in the students’ education and help prepare them for successful careers in sport management.”

The spring semester coincided with the second half of the Crunch’s 2017-18 schedule. As part of the partnership, the class visited the Crunch’s office and followed their home game schedule for class assignments. The class experience culminated with a sponsorship proposal. Additionally, the Crunch provided each student with tickets to three games to further enhance their understanding of in-game sponsorship elements.

“This is a very exciting and unique opportunity for our students,” said sport management adjunct professor Dave Meluni. “I appreciated the chance to work with the Crunch on this project as it provided Syracuse students a path into the sport industry that is unmatched.”

Sport Venue and Event Management Master’s program graduates its sixth class

SVEM Class of 2018 posed on field in DomeThe Department of Sport Management’s master’s program in Sport Venue and Event Management (SVEM) welcomed its sixth class of graduate students to campus in July 2017. The program comprises 36 credit hours of intensive classroom learning, skill development and experiential opportunities in settings like SU’s Carrier Dome.

The 2017-18 cohort included 13 students, with a diverse mix of educational backgrounds and from a variety of geographic locations. Students will complete their practicum work in the Summer and Fall 2018 semesters with organizations such as Live Nation, Special Olympics, the Indianapolis Colts, MetLife Stadium and Los Angeles Rams.

In July 2017, the students began in an immersive nature, working three days at the Musselman Triathlon in the Finger Lakes region during the first week of the program, followed by an immersion experience at the Buffalo Bills preseason training camp.

The graduate students also took part in professional development seminars conducted by Sport Management internship placement coordinators on the topics of networking, cover letters and resumes, strategic interviewing, salary negotiation, career guidance and using LinkedIn.

In the Fall 2017 semester, SVEM graduate students helped to plan and execute the annual Coming Back Together Celebrity Classic, which brings former student-athletes and fans together for a fun evening of remembering and reminiscing.

In the Spring 2018 semester, students worked with SPM associate professor Dr. Gina Pauline in the advanced event management course to plan a charity golf classic benefiting Vera House. Read more about the event.

Students in the first six cohorts have immersed themselves in the program’s academic and experiential opportunities, and leveraged relationships to launch their careers in the industry. Graduates have secured positions within McFetridge Sports Center in Chicago, Dover Speedway, Brown University, Spectra Venue Management, Legends Hospitality, Spartan Race Inc., Country Music Hall of Fame, Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome, Boston Celtics, University of Virginia Athletics, Boise State University, and Tulsa Sports Commission, among others.

The seventh SVEM graduate class began in July 2017.

Learn more about the graduate program

Congratulations to the Class of 2018

group of students pose with awards
These eight students were presented awards during the Sport Management senior reception on May 11. From left are Christopher Henderson, Destiny Castro, Kelsey Meisenzahl, Christina Myers, William Kniesner, Elise Lagerweij, Alex Wood, and Elijah Newsome.
On May 12, 2018, the David B. Falk College celebrated its Class of 2018 Convocation ceremony at Manley Field House. Eighty-one Sport Management undergraduates and 14 Sport Venue and Event Management master’s students took part in the ceremony.

The 2018 Sport Management Marshals were Alex Wood (undergraduate) and Paige Hammond (graduate). Destiny Castro, Chris Henderson and Alex Wood were named Falk College Scholars.

Thirty-five Sport Management students in the Class of 2018 graduated with honors with a GPA of 3.4 or higher. Eighteen students graduated Magna Cum Laude (GPA of 3.6 or higher) and seven graduated Summa Cum Laude, (GPA of 3.8 or higher).

The Department of Sport Management’s traditional celebration of its graduates on Commencement weekend continued this year, with more than 200 parents, family members, friends, faculty and staff gathering in Falk College on May 11 to celebrate the accomplishments of the Sport Management undergraduates and Sport Venue and Event Management master’s students.

This year’s awards ceremony featured remarks by Sport Management director and chair Michael D. Veley, College benefactor David B. Falk, and Syracuse University Trustee and Chicago Cubs minority owner Andrew Berlin. SPM undergraduate director Dr. Gina Pauline led the awards ceremony to honor the Class of 2018.

Awards presented included:

  • Director’s Award – Alex Wood
  • Academic Excellence Award – William Kniesner
  • Matt Brodsky Philanthropic Award – Christina Myers
  • Sport Management VIP Award – Destiny Castro
  • Professional Engagement Award – Christopher Henderson
  • Jason Morales Perseverance in Sport Award – Elise Lagerweij
  • Academic Promise Award – Elijah Newsome
  • Graduate student award – Kelsey Meisenzahl

Nine students received the Director’s Academic Achievement Award for earning a GPA of 3.4 or higher for each of their seven consecutive semesters at Syracuse University. Those students were: Keith Bremer, Destiny Castro, Christopher Henderson, Jeffrey Kent, William Kniesner, Kyle O’Connor, Matthew Potolski, Erik Weiss and Alex Wood.

Elijah Newsome was noted as a McNair Scholar and Angela Marsh-Coan as a David Bing Scholar. Peter Nagle (Sport Management and History) and William Kniesner (Sport Management and Economics) were noted as dual majors.

Students bask in Australia’s sport, history and culture

2018 SPM 300 members in posed near bay in AustraliaFalk College Endowed Professor of Sport Management Rick Burton took 12 students to Australia from June 13-30 as part of a three-credit course titled SPM 300 – Australia: Sport, History and Culture. The course is cross-listed as SOC 300 and much of the focus of this year’s trip was on the narrative of race in sports. It was the seventh time the course was offered.

The students stayed in each city approximately five days and along with classroom work enjoyed cultural studies with trips to the rainforest and in-depth study of indigenous communities. The group visited Melbourne, Sydney, and Cairns (the Great Barrier Reef), taking in professional football and basketball, as well as snorkeling, scuba diving and “jungle surfing” in the Daintree National Park. The group visited the Queen Victoria Markets, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the famed MCG), Australia’s Sporting Hall of Fame, Sydney Harbour and Cape Tribulation, where British explorer James Cook ran aground in 1770.

Students benefitted from scholarly lectures (at top Australian universities such as Victoria University, University of Technology Sydney and James Cook University), site visits, and meetings/interactions with Australian university professors, students and industry professionals.

“From learning to play Australian Rules Football to visiting the aboriginal community, all the lectures and activities were enriching and eye opening,” said Sport Management major Jocelyn Mong ’19. “Through this trip, I met amazing people from different colleges at SU. We bonded over everything Aussie-related: food, rugby, and kangaroos, and have memories that will stick with us forever.”

Burton, who previously worked in Australia as the commissioner of the Australian National Basketball League, said the purpose of the trip is to expose American students to a different country’s sport, history and culture.

“It’s exciting for our students to get embedded in an unfamiliar setting and see the unique way in which Australia embraces its sporting culture,” Burton said. “This trip gives SU students the opportunity to see a vibrant sports culture that is different from what they see in the U.S.”

Read the trip blog

SPM Charity Golf Classic Benefits Vera House

Golf Classic members pose for a photoThe Sport Venue and Event Management (SVEM) graduate program raised $20,000 during a charity golf tournament to benefit Vera House on May 7 at Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse. The event, which was sponsored by Key Bank, included more than 100 golfers, lunch, a dinner reception, silent auction, guest speakers, and raffle prizes.

Monies raised will support Vera House’s domestic and sexual violence program, providing shelter, advocacy, education, and counseling for women, children, and men.

“The Charity Golf Classic provides our students with a unique opportunity to learn, plan, and execute a sporting event,” said Sport Venue and Event Management graduate program director Dr. Jeff Pauline. “In addition to their professional development, students learn the importance of social responsibility.”

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

“Having the opportunity to be involved in all facets 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 Kelsey Meisenzahl ’18. “The hands-on experience we gained is truly invaluable. Vera House is such a deserving partner and we really enjoyed furthering their efforts in bringing awareness to domestic and relationship violence.”

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 tournament including selecting the community partner, course operations, marketing, hospitality, fundraising, and sponsorships.

“The students took the framework of this event and worked hard to expand upon various areas to make the event unique,” 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 golf, specialty food, music, contests, and an incredible keynote speaker.”

Batter Up! Sport Analytics seniors’ research published by Baseball America

Portrait of CB Garrett and Justin PerlineSport Analytics students Justin Perline ’19 and Charles “CB” Garrett ’19 have been invited to attend the European Sports Economics Association (ESEA) conference in Liverpool, England, in August 2018. The seniors were notified in Spring 2018 that their research was accepted for presentation at the international conference.

Their paper, “Minor League Team Success and Its Impact on MLB Player Performance,” with Syracuse University Sport Analytics professor Dr. Rodney Paul as a co-author, is an academic treatment of the research by Perline and Garrett featured in Baseball America, which is a top website in the world of baseball.

The paper investigates positive externalities from minor league team success as it relates to marginal revenue product of a baseball player, measured by WAR (Wins Above Replacement). The results illustrate that winning has a positive impact on individual performance later in a player’s career and has economic implications for baseball teams and for the workplace in general.

In addition to this paper, Paul also had his paper titled “The Role of Uncertainty of Outcome and Team Success on Attendance Outside the NHL: Comparing the top Leagues in Europe to the Minor Leagues in North America” accepted for the ESEA conference.

Perline is a dual major in Sport Analytics and in Newspaper and Online Journalism. Garrett is a dual major in Sport Analytics and Broadcast and Digital Journalism.

The European Sports Economics Association Conference is the premier sports economics conference held annually in Europe. Sports economists present on a variety of theoretical and empirical models related to the economics of sports.

“As undergraduate students, the acceptance of the paper for the ESEA conference is especially impressive,” Dr. Paul said. “Justin and CB will gain valuable experience being able to present to a premier audience of researchers in sports economics and will gain valuable suggestions and ideas for both their current and future research from the conference participants. I think they will find the topics discussed at the conference to be thought-provoking and will benefit them in their future careers.

Read the article

Do we have a deal? ‘Shark Tank’ participant ISlide partners with SPM 444

SU branded orange footwearIn the Fall of 2017, students in Sport Management Associate Professor Patrick Walsh’s SPM 444 Sports Marketing Management course had the unique opportunity to work with a company that appeared on the hit ABC television show “Shark Tank.”

ISlide develops premium, customized athletic slides (i.e., sandals) and has number of partnerships in sports and entertainment, including deals with the NBA, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, and international music superstar DJ Khaled, among others. In 2017 ISlide was expanding into the collegiate space by signing licensing deals with a number of top universities across the country.

“When we were approached by ISlide they had just recently signed their first collegiate licensing deal with Syracuse University and were seeking ideas of how to introduce their SU-branded products,” Walsh said. “I knew the students would embrace this since their product is targeted toward the college demographic, and ISlide was open to unique and creative ideas.”

Throughout the semester, students worked in groups to develop strategic marketing plans designed to generate awareness and sales for the SU-branded ISlides. ISlide Founder and CEO Justin Kittredge and Director Sales Paul Gibson visited campus early in the semester to introduce the students to the company, the product, and the athletic footwear industry (and graciously provided each student in class with their own customized SU slides). Kittredge and Gibson were available throughout the semester to the students for feedback and guidance, and the students were able to present their marketing plans directly to Kittredge at the end of the semester.

“This project was a huge success as it exposed the students to a brand with a strong entrepreneurial focus and to an area of the industry they likely would not have considered otherwise,” Walsh said.

“The SPM 444 project required me to think critically about how I would apply the marketing principals I had learned in the classroom to real-life business situations,” said SPM senior Christopher Henderson. “The freedom of the project allowed each group to have complete ownership of their work. Being able to present our work to, and receive feedback from, founder Justin Kittredge was extremely beneficial. It was a rare opportunity to learn from a successful entrepreneur in the industry.”

Sport management alumnus hosts current senior for capstone

Casey Miller '08 and Matt Neumann '18
Sport management alumnus Casey Miller ’08 with sport management senior Matt Neumann ’18

With over 550 alumni in the work force, many sport management alumni provide valuable knowledge, internships, and senior Capstone opportunities for students by serving as senior Capstone supervisors, including Andrew Ross ’14, Hali Stark ’10, Adam Baldassarre ’11, Zach Schotz ’13, Ashley Robbins ’10, Ashley Brantman ’10, Harrison Laifer ’15, and most recently, Casey Miller ’08.

“Having a sport management alumnus as my supervisor has been amazing so far,” said Matt Neumann ’18, currently on his senior Capstone with Miller in New York City. “He has been through the exact same experience, so he knows what it takes to make the most of it. I can tell that he wants to see me succeed.”

Miller, director of client services at Grabyo, says, “It has been a wonderful experience being a supervisor for a senior Capstone! The quality of students coming out of the program is incredible. Matt has been an amazing addition to the team and has done a great job contributing to our work. I’m looking forward to recruiting future students to work with the Grabyo team to prepare them for the industry.”

Alumni mentorship is an excellent way for alumni to give back. The inaugural “S.P.M. Week” in January 2019 is an opportunity where “Students and Professionals Meet” before the Spring semester begins. The Department of Sport Management is seeking interested alumni to host a student or students to job shadow for a day or two, or the entire week between January 7 and 11, 2019.  Hosting a student may provide an organization with benefits such as gaining experience in training and mentoring, improving productivity, meeting and molding a potential future employee, and fostering team spirit.

An application link will be distributed in November. Contact Sport Management internship placement coordinator Nicole Imbrogno ’08 at for more information.

Important Dates for S.P.M. Week

November 5: application opens

November 20: application closes

November 27 – December 4: students apply for opportunities

December 6: alumni and students notified of matches

December 7: students complete orientation

January 7 – 11: program runs