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Wharton Launches Sports Business Program With Emphasis on Analytics

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has announced a spicy new sports analytics initiative. Spicy because, as the Wharton Sports Analytics and Business Initiative, the program will be known by the acronym “WSABI.”

WSABI grows out of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, WSBI, which dates back to 2008. The addition of an “A” to that acronym reflects the new initiative’s focus on analytics, as does the grouping of the new program under the Wharton Analytics Initiative.

A major component of the new program will be collaborations that give students the opportunity to apply data analytics in real-life sports settings. These include collaborations with University of Pennsylvania’s own teams, such as the school’s baseball team.

More broadly, though, they will involve “industry partnerships including accessing datasets from professional sports teams,” which Wharton anticipates will create new internship and career possibilities.

The initiative is being led by Cade Massey, a Practice Professor in the Operations, Information and Decisions Department, and Adi Wynder, a Professor of Statistics.

The refocusing of Wharton’s sports business program on analytics is only one part of the school’s recent push to make data science a core area of focus. Earlier this year, for example, the school used a $15 million gift to launch Analytics at Wharton, the umbrella initiative under which WSABI falls.

Wharton dean Geoff Garrett characterized the school as “uniquely capable of applying our prowess in data analytics to yield new understanding of a topic that has fascinated societies for thousands of years.”

He added that WSABI would “give the leading minds involved in sports – from students to owners to ‘Moneyball’ type data scientists – a ringside seat to better examine the future of sports.”

Eric Bradlow, vice dean of Analytics at Wharton, outlined similarly high expectations for the program. He anticipated that it would “prepare our students to take leadership roles translating analytics into actionable sports business insights.

For applicants interested in sports-related businesses, especially those applying data analytics, WSABI certainly makes Wharton a potentially attractive option among top business schools. More generally, the new initiative reinforces Wharton’s ongoing shift toward making analytics a key area of emphasis.

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