Center for Sports Analytics

The Samford University Center for Sports Analytics promotes the ethically-centered, rational inquiry into issues at the burgeoning intersection of big data, analytics, and sports. The center seeks to be an international thought leader in the emerging field of sports analytics by providing a forum for industry professionals and students to learn about the increasing role of analytics in the global sports industry. The center is dedicated to fostering growth and innovation in this arena, and the center seeks to enrich opportunities for learning about the sports industry. The center's mission encompasses all areas where analytics impacts sports including fan engagement, sponsorship, player tracking, sports medicine, sports media and operations.

Our Executive Director

Darin W. White, Ph.D.

Darin W. White, Ph.D. in Marketing (University of Alabama) is Executive Director of the Samford University Center for Sports Analytics and Founding Director of the Sports Marketing program in the Brock School of Business. He serves as Chair of the American Marketing Association’s Sport & Sponsorship-Linked Marketing SIG, the leading international scholarly body charged with advancing the field of sports marketing. Darin also serves as Chair of the Entrepreneurship, Management & Marketing Department at Samford University.

Darin has significant experience developing data driven marketing insights for many of the top sports properties in the world including Bayern Munich, Nike, SEC, NBA and the Miami Dolphins. His primary research interest centers on the use of big data in the development of new sponsorship-linked marketing effectiveness metrics. He has assisted Adidas, AON, Honda and Blue Cross Blue Shield on their sponsorship marketing strategy.

Prior to coming Samford University in 2007, Darin was president of the Strategic Research Center, Inc., a marketing research firm in Tennessee. He has taught marketing research for over twenty years at two different universities. He has also published 27 academic manuscripts in leading business journals including Journal of Business Research, European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Strategic Marketing, Journal of Global Marketing and Sports, Business & Management: An International Journal

Darin is a highly sought resource for media seeking insights into sports business. His comments have appeared in numerous media outlets including Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, ESPN Radio, Mashable, Al Jazeera, Sports Business Daily, International Business Times, NPR, Bleacher Report, and the Capital Gazette.

Darin serves on the board of directors for the Alabama Sports Foundation, Sport Forward, Daniel Summit, and Youth Sports of the Americas. He also serves on the editorial review board for two refereed sports business journals.

Our Fellows

Shane Sanders, Ph.D.

Dr. Shane Sanders is an Associate Professor of Sports Economics & Analytics at Syracuse University. He has published 36 peer-reviewed journal articles, primarily in the areas of sports economics and sports analytics. Dr. Sanders has several hundred hours of experience in basketball player evaluation consulting, most notably for a EuroLeague basketball team and for a leading NCAA Men’s Basketball player rating website on the topic. He also works with a leading NCAA (Men’s and Women’s) Cross Country program on projects related to recruitment and performance prediction.

Dr. Sanders has written player evaluation articles in the sports of basketball and baseball for such venues as Fox Sports, Nylon Calculus, Hoops Habit, and The Hardball Times. His research on revenue sharing was cited in an amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court in a landmark sports anti-trust case (American Needle, Inc. v NFL 2009). Dr. Sanders has extensive experience in statistical programming and data analysis and has analyzed many different types of sports data.  He also takes care to explain his statistical methodology and results in a straightforward manner. Dr. Sanders is honored to support the mission of the Samford University Center for Sports Analytics as a Fellow. 

Mike Hardin, Ph.D.

Dr. Mike Hardin, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Quantitative Analysis and Biostatistics at Samford University, is one of only four Fellows of the American Statistical Association in the state of Alabama, an honor reserved for less than 1% of the entire ASA international membership. He is the former Dean of the Culverhouse College of Commerce at the University of Alabama. He earned his doctorate in applied statistics and three separate masters degrees in mathematics, research design/statistics, and divinity. He often serves as a consultant to healthcare organizations in data analysis, sampling and program integrity. He is also a prolific writer and guest speaker in the areas of database design and decision support systems.

Tom Woolley, Ph.D.

Dr. Tom Woolley, Senior Associate Provost and Professor of Quantitative Analysis, holds a Ph.D. in Statistics and Research Design from Florida State University. He is the former Vice Chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Biomathematics and Head of Public Health Biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center. Having published or presented before scientific conferences nearly 200 works, his current research interests include indeterminacy in business, experimental design, applied Bayesian analysis, outlier methodology, and the theology of chance. 

David Hardin, M.D.

David is a primary care sports medicine fellow at Lemak Sports Medicine. He has extensive experience combining software development, data analytics, and sports medicine expertise. Through partnerships with Dr. Larry Lemak and Major League Soccer, he is working to guide league-wide data analytics for player safety and performance research. He has presented on topics such as data analytics in ACL injury return to play, statistical methods of injury prediction in Major League Soccer, and text mining methods for prediction of premature infant death. In addition to research experience, he has private analytics consulting experience with a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and Strategywise, Inc. He completed his internal medicine residency at Baptist Health System in Birmingham, AL, received his M.D. from the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and received his BS from the University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce.

Will Cavanaugh

Will graduated from Samford University's Brock School of Business with a B.S. in Economics and a Sports Marketing Concentration in 2015. He works for Nielsen Sports in New York focusing on MLB team clients and is a junior fellow of the Samford University Center for Sports Analytics. His day-to-day duties involve data analytics and market research for various MLB teams. Will is currently pursuing his Master’s of Predictive Analytics at Northwestern University.

Nathan Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

Nathan is in his fifth year as the program coordinator for the Sports Administration major at Samford University. His professional background in the sports industry has been in college athletics as a Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Athletic Administrator, and Director of Basketball Operations. His research interests revolve around the business and leadership sides of college athletics and he currently is leading a client-based sponsorship awareness research project for Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center. He has published peer-reviewed, scholarly research previously on the business and financial backgrounds of collegiate athletic directors, as well as NCAA academic eligibility measures such as the Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Academic Redshirt Policy. His current research projects examine licensing sponsorships in collegiate sports, consumer preference in collegiate athletic apparel sales, and alcohol-related sponsorships and sales in “Power 5” Conference athletics. He is honored to be part of the first ever Fellows group for the Center for Sports Analytics at Samford University. 

Betsy Emmons, Ph.D.

Betsy Emmons, Ph.D., APR is an assistant professor in the Journalism & Mass Communication department at Samford University. She specializes in strategic communication, particularly public relations. Her research examines social media as it intersects sports and stakeholder relationships. Analytics interests include content analysis and mixed method contextual research. She has been published in the International Journal of Sport CommunicationCommunication and SportJournal of Sports Media, and other media journals. Prior to academia, Emmons worked in public relations, including media relations for motorsport and event management.

Chuck Stokes, Ph.D.

Chuck is associate professor of sociology at Samford University. Much of his scholarship focuses on how religious belief and behavior impacts family and educational outcomes. His work has been published in several outlets including the Journal of Marriage and Family, the Journal of Family Issues, the Future of Children, and Social Science Research. After completing his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, Stokes served as a fellow of the Templeton Center for Thrift and Generosity before returning to his alma mater, Samford University.

Chuck’s love for sports was nurtured by playing youth sports and watching Clemson football while growing up in South Carolina. In launching the College Football Uniform Study (CFUS), he combined his enjoyment of sports with a passion for applied social science. The first two publications from the CFUS were covered by local and national sports media and garnered interest from sports apparel manufacturers. Moving forward with the Center for Sports Analytics, Stokes plans to continue research on how motivation, team bonding, and organizational culture affect athletic performance.

Yilun Zhou, Ph.D. Candidate

Yilun holds an M.S. in Statistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sport Management at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Yilun has published articles in Journal of Sport Management, Sport Management Review, Journal of Sports Economics, Sport Marketing Quarterly, Leisure Sciences, Leisure Studies and other outlets. She is currently working as a data scientist at Anheuser-Busch InBev Bud Analytics Lab and is a junior fellow of the Samford University Center for Sports Analytics. She has also worked for Nike, Ogilvy, and Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games. Yilun has extensive experience in quantitative modeling of marketing-related questions, and is familiar with various statistical software, languages, packages, and big data computation systems.

Matt Mazzei, Ph.D.

Matt is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management in the Brock School of Business at Samford University. He earned a Ph.D. in Management from Auburn University, with a concentration in Organizational Studies, Strategy, and Change. He also received a M.S. in Management Information Systems, an MBA, and an undergraduate degree in finance. Prior to academia, he held various management and leadership positions in finance, accounting, and information technology.

Matt received the 2017 Brock School of Business Outstanding Scholarship Award for his leading-edge research related to the use of big data in driving corporate strategy. He has been invited to speak at universities in Helsinki, Finland, regarding data analytics and also helped organize a symposium on longitudinal data analysis at a prestigious international management conference. His research interests focus on firm-level entrepreneurship and the influence of big data analytics on corporate decision making. Matt’s work has been presented at various national and international conferences and published in prestigious journals such as Group and Organization Management, Management Decision, and Business Horizons.

Matt is actively involved with and passionate about teaching life lessons through youth sports, serving as a volunteer coach in baseball, basketball, and flag football. He also serves on the advisory board for the Alabama Amateur Hockey Association, a non-profit entity that promotes and administers competitive youth hockey in the Birmingham market.

Our Interns

Steven Simons

Steven is a senior Information Management and Technology major with a minor in Sports Analytics at Syracuse University. His primary focus is on soccer and attempting to predict World Cup qualification probabilities. 

Chase Tripi

Chase is a senior at Samford University majoring in marketing with a concentration in sports marketing. As a Brock School of Business student, he has taken numerous data analytics and marketing research-oriented classes prior to his internship in the Center for Sports Analytics. His primary job for the center is running the analytics for the NFL and College Football Relevance Rankings. Chase and his classmates in the sports marketing program recently presented a data-driven, consumer insights project on Generation Z to senior level executives at Nike world headquarters in Oregon.

Chase has taken Mandarin Chinese during his time at Samford with the hopes of working in international marketing for NBA China. To prepare himself for this goal, he spent a semester in Hong Kong where he took international marketing classes to gain international business experience. Chase has worked as a student Marketing Assistant with the Samford Athletics department since his freshman year and currently interns with a local sports marketing firm, Knight Eady Sports Group. Learn more about Chase.

Rory Houston

Rory is a junior at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is double majoring in Business Intelligence/Analytics & Sports Marketing. He is a member of the Saint Joseph's University Track and Field team and is seeking a career in the front office of a professional baseball team. Learn more about Rory.

Xingping Liu

Xingping earned a B.A. in mathematics and applied mathematics at Sun Yat-sen University, a major Chinese public research university located in Guangdong, People's Republic of China. Xingping is currently pursuing a master of sport management at Indiana University-Bloomington. She has taken many courses in data analysis, such as mathematical statistics, mathematical analysis, and data mining. She was also an active participant in the mathematical/interdisciplinary contest in modeling. She will serve as an intern for the Center for the summer 2018 semester. Learn more about Xingping.

Jacob Adkins

Jacob is a senior at the University of Charleston in West Virginia majoring in sports business. He will be serving as the Video Production Intern for the Center for the summer  2018 semester. He plans to stay at the University of Charleston in pursuit of his MBA after graduation. Currently, he is developing a mobile platform for sports data analytics. Learn more about Jacob.

Patrick Schilling

Patrick is a senior at Western Carolina University double majoring in Computer Information Systems and Sports Management. He is working as a Media Game Day assistant for WCU's Athletic Department. His main interest is using statistical data to find trends in game performance and how it relates to decision making not only on the field, but also in the front office. He will be serving as an intern in the Center for Sports Analytics in the summer of 2018.

Katie Moseley

Katie Moseley is a graduate student at the University of Georgia in Athens majoring in Sports Management. As an undergraduate in the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia she majored in public relations and took courses in social media analytics and sports & social media. Katie has worked as a student manager for the softball team at UGA for the last 5 years.

Moriah Stice

Moriah is a Junior at Samford University pursuing a double major in Mathematics and Economics, with a minor in Computer Science. Moriah and two of her siblings were/are D1 athletes competing in Dance, Cross Country and Soccer. She is primarily interested in using her math and economics education to find efficient solutions through the use of data analysis. Moriah will be serving as an intern in the fall of 2018.

Jared Gray

Jared is a senior at the State University of New York College at Cortland. He is majoring in Sport Management, with a concentration in International Sport Management, and a minor in Communication Studies. He will be working with the Center, primarily as a Social Media intern, for the summer of 2018. He has helped pioneer the growth of a student-run media content website, The Red Beat, for his university over the past two years.

Britton Gallardo

Britton is a graduate student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas with the Kinesiology and Sport Management department. Britton also holds a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management with a minor in English and took several marketing through social media and communications classes with the Media and Communications department at Texas Tech University. Britton currently teaches Diet and Exercise with the Kinesiology and Sport Management department as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and has done so for almost two years.

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