Falk's sports analytics major is first of its kind

Starting this year, SU launches a major and minor program that combines data science and sports management

Students in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics were offered an opportunity that’s never been available before on a university campus.

In May, SU announced that beginning in the fall semester of 2016, the school will add the first sports analytics major in the country to its curriculum.

Students also have the option to minor in sports analytics, an area of study that focuses on analyzing and applying data to real issues in sports organizations, according to the program's website. 

Photo: EJay Zarett
Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics houses the country’s first ever sports analytics major.

Since the announcement, the program has received a large amount of attention from prospective students said Rodney Paul, the director of the sports analytics undergraduate program. Paul helped to design the new major’s curriculum.

“We’ve gotten a lot of different interests from people who are trying to figure out how to put this in [their schedule],” Paul said. “ I’m really guessing that we just aren’t going to be able to handle the numbers that we get ... There is going to be a lot more interest then there is going to be spots.”

The degree requires 125-credit hours and provides students with a skill set that will prepare them to work in all aspects of the sports industry including player talent evaluation, sales and scouting, according to the program’s website.

Paul said that current juniors and seniors will be able to complete the 18-credit sports analytics minor before graduation, while incoming freshman and current sophomores will be the first to finish the major. The inaugural degrees in sports analytics are anticipated to be awarded in May 2019.

However, Paul said he believes changes will be made to the curriculum as the program and the sports analytics field progress.

“Everything is fluid at this point. We are really just trying to figure out what’s the best way to serve the industry,” Paul said. “But, if you have the underpinnings in terms of logically thinking about how this works and ways to be able to set up the models, I think then you’ll be able to adapt.”

Sports management senior Colby Conetta, 20, was among one of the first students to enroll in the sports analytics minor in the fall. He said he was immediately drawn to the program after the announcement and is excited to start taking classes.

“I’m involved in ground zero of the sports analytics movement,” Conetta said in a phone interview. “We’re the first ones to do it ... If I was three years younger and I was coming into Syracuse, [the major] would be the thing that I’d have my eyes on.”

Matthew Russo, 20, also a sports management senior and enrolled in the sports analytics minor, said that he feels as if the program will help him achieve his dreams.

“I knew 100 percent that I was going to take the opportunity,” Russo said in a phone interview. “With analytics being the wave of the future, and in sports in particular, I thought it would be a good way to get my foot in the door.”

However, Jordan Kobritz, the chair of SUNY Cortland's sports management department, said he was unsure what to make of the new program at Syracuse.

“I think anytime we can educate people about the discipline so that they are better prepared when they enter the workforce and they can do a better job, I think that benefits all of us,” Kobritz said. “But, I think the competition for jobs in the area is steep, very competitive.”

While Cortland offers a sports analytics class, the school is not planning on expanding its program to include a major in the field, Kobritz stated. He said he believes that students can be prepared to enter the field without specializing in the area.

“Most of this information can be covered in other schools and other disciplines,” he said. “The information, the knowledge base that is required to translate to sports, is available outside of a sports management program.”

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.