Published on November 3, 2023  
Darin White and students DR10112023688

OnCon, a prestigious global summit of the world’s top executives, awards individuals and teams for their exceptional contributions in business thought leadership. The recipients of these awards are determined through close scrutiny and evaluation by both the business community and organizational experts, resulting in the acknowledgment of some of the most remarkable talents and teams on a global scale.

On Oct. 24, Samford University's Center for Sports Analytics secured a position among the top 10 teams in the 2023 OnCon Icon Awards, specifically in the competitive data and analytics category. Often likened to the "Oscars" of the business world, this accolade places Samford in an elite group, surpassing major industry giants in the finalist selection. Notable contenders in the category included names like Pepsi, Invesco, Fidelity, BBVA, PwC, Microsoft, Mastercard, Procter & Gamble, New York Life, Panasonic and the National Science Foundation.

Of significance, Samford University stands out as the only institution of higher education represented within the top 10 honorees and holds the distinct position of being the sole team specializing in the field of sports analytics. The coveted title of the 2023 overall winner was awarded to Lexmark International.

Darin W. White, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Sports Analytics, said, "We are profoundly proud of our team's extraordinary achievement in being named a top 10 team for Data and Analytics by the esteemed International OnCon Awards. This recognition underscores our unwavering commitment to thought leadership, innovation and education in the field of sports analytics. It is a testament to the dedication and expertise of our team, and we are honored to stand among the global leaders in this prestigious category.”

Founded in 2017, the center provides a forum for students and industry professionals to learn about the increasing role of data analytics in the global sports industry. And, ultimately through their experiences, students become well equipped for careers in the sports industry.

Three primary focuses of the center include sports business analytics, performance analytics, and human performance analytics. Students have completed real world data research projects for organizations such as the NBA, Nike, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Dolphins. And, they have provided analytics support for more than 18 professional, college and high school teams to help them better understand performance.

Another integral component of the center is its work for Samford’s Project SAMson, a university initiative that brings the latest technology, data analysis and sports medicine practices together to enhance the training regimen of all Samford student-athletes. With the Center for Sports Analytics at the helm, other Project SAMson partners include Samford University Athletics, Andrews Sports Medicine, American Sports Medicine Institute, and Samford’s College of Health Sciences.

Through these experiences, Samford sports analytics students are well prepared for data analytics jobs in the sports arena once they graduate. More than 90% of students who complete the program receive full-time job offers, a major supporting factor of the university’s #10 ranking for career preparation by the Wall Street Journal.

Austin Streitmatter ’23 came to Samford for the sports analytics program. As a marketing and management major with concentrations in sports marketing and data analytics, Streitmatter was one of the first students involved in Project SAMson when it launched in 2021. Now, he is a data analytics associate for the Minnesota Vikings.

Streitmatter said, “Being involved with the Center for Sports Analytics has probably played the biggest role in my career progression. The way that the center gives real world experience to develop hard skills while also emphasizing the soft skills necessary to become a unique candidate in a packed workplace is unmatched. The program taught me how to build relationships that differentiate myself and, frankly, enabled me to land and perform well in my role with the Minnesota Vikings.”

In 2018, the center was represented on the judging panel of the Yahoo Sports Technology Awards. Since its founding, the center has been mentioned and featured by global media outlets such as the LA Times, The Washington Post, ESPN Radio, Forbes, Al Jazeera, International Business Times, the Sports Business Journal, Leeds Live, USA Today and more.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.