Published on March 6, 2019 by Morgan Black  

On Friday, March 1, Samford University’s Brock School of Business held a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening for its newly constructed M. Chad Trull | Krowten Capital LLC Data & Sports Analytics Lab.

Last fall, Samford University and its Center for Sports Analytics announced a collaboration with SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company and leader in analytics. The new lab will be key in the partnership’s ability to support teaching, learning and research in all areas where analytics impacts sports, including fan engagement, sponsorship, player tracking, sports medicine, sports media and operations. 

“SAS is honored to be in this partnership with Samford University,” SAS Senior Account Executive Steve Rager said. “Analytics is at the forefront of everything we see and do now. This Data & Sports Analytics lab will be instrumental in providing Samford University students with a new opportunity for real-world analytics experience.” 

“The projects that our students will get to experience through this state-of-the-art software provided through our partnership with SAS will be such an advantage for them,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mike Hardin. 

Already, Samford’s Center for Sports Analytics, a primary tenant in the new lab, has lined up several partnerships that will provide tremendous opportunities for its students. 

The Center for Sports Analytics has partnered with the newly installed Birmingham Legion FC, Birmingham’s first and only locally owned professional soccer franchise. Students utilizing the lab will work with Legion executives to help the soccer team build the perfect match strategy by collecting and analyzing gameplay data. 

Other student projects that will benefit from the new space include the analyzation of college baseball data for Scoutcast which will be provided to six Major League Baseball (MLB) teams including the New York Yankees and using social media data from college football fans to assist college athletic departments with fan insights. Additionally, the students will be analyzing data to help sports sponsors determine the return on their marketing investments, and they will be working with the Southern Conference (SoCon) and Ingles to develop activation strategies for the SoCon basketball tournament.

“This lab will make all the difference for our students to have an expanded professional and experiential learning opportunity,” said Brock School of Business Dean Howard Finch.

The lab is named for M. Chad Trull, a 2005 Brock School of Business graduate. Trull is a venture capital partner in the Birmingham area and his company, Krowten Capital LLC, serves as the primary sponsor of the new lab. 

“We have a little bit of company, maybe one other university, but we are really in a class by ourselves with this new opportunity for our students,” Hardin added. 

This academic year, Brock School of Business launched a new curriculum to offer a concentration and a minor in data analytics. The concentration for business majors and the minor for nonbusiness majors will equip Samford students, our future business leaders, with the tools and knowledge they will need to succeed in this ever-evolving world of data.

Ashlee Fincher, a junior who has added the sports marketing and data analytics concentrations to her major, is excited to be working in the new Data & Sports Analytics lab. 

“We are one of the first schools in the country to have a lab like this, and the first to use it as a sports analytics lab, so to be able to have that training will be really valuable for all of us,” Fincher said.