Sport Management Team Wins National Baseball Analytics Case Competition

Loras College students joined the likes of Duke and Cornell when they came out champions at the Society for American Baseball Research’s (SABR) Diamond Dollars Case Competition in Phoenix, Ariz., in March.
The competition was held as part of the SABR Analytics Conference and challenged teams from across the country to analyze a problem that a professional baseball team’s general manager might encounter, and present their decisions.  This was the first year that Loras participated in the competition.  Students were asked to analyze the top three "pitching assets" in the game today — the pitchers who will generate the greatest value to a team over the balance of his years under contract or team control.
Competing in a new competition and winning it our first time out is something we are all very proud of. The field of talent we went up against was arguably the deepest to date from top to bottom. I'm proud of this team and our ability to bring it all together in the end!” said team member Katie Gonzales (’14) (Chicago, Ill.).

Shane Williams (’16) (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), added, “"Winning the Diamond Dollars Case Competition at the SABR Analytics Conference was a very tough, yet rewarding accomplishment.  It was a team effort from all involved and we could not be happier to continue the success of the Loras Sport Management program, as well as kickstart the analytics program.  We look forward to keeping the winning tradition going as we move forward with other conferences and case study competitions." 

The students who captured the win were:  Gonzales, Williams, Nick Klein (’16) (Dubuque, Iowa), Austin Overmann (’15) (Davenport, Iowa) and Megan Tews (’16) (Plainfield, Ill.). They were presented the case at a point during the conference and had 96 hours to research, analyze and prepare their findings for presentation.  Loras topped school such as Tufts University, Macalaster College, and Rice University to win the competition. 

“The students’ win is a great illustration of Loras’ commitment to the field of analytics.  They learned and applied skills that Loras recognizes as an invaluable asset in any field of work, including sport management.  Opportunities like these types of learning opportunities, a new undergraduate major in business analytics, and our MBA and certificate programs focusing on business analytics, will only become more important as we prepare students and professionals to proactively and effectively find innovative solutions for using data,” commented Dan Conway, Ph.D., director of the MBA program and associate professor of business analytics.  Conway and Matt Rissler, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, helped prepare the student team with statistical and mathematics skills prior to the team learning the details of the case.

"This is our fifth national championship in four years, but arguably the sweetest.  The other schools we competed against are among the top schools in the country.  Our students worked extremely hard in the 96 hours they were allotted.  Our students won because they were capable of doing the necessary math in the analytical sense but they could also incorporate the "common sense" element of analyzing the data in determining that Alex Fernandez, Chris Sale, and Madison Baumgarner were the three best pitching assets in baseball.  
This was our first time at SABR, and once again we arrived with few even knowing where Dubuque is on the map and walked away putting our sport management program and Loras College on the national stage," said Sport Management Program Coordinator Matt Garrett, Ph.D.

Sport management students will compete for another national title at the College Sport Research Institute in late April.

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