Carnegie Mellon University

Brian Burke of ESPN

September 25, 2017

ESPN's Brian Burke To Keynote CMU's Sports Analytics Conference

By Stefanie Johndrow

Some of the biggest names in sports analytics are coming to Pittsburgh this fall for a Carnegie Mellon University first: The Carnegie Mellon Sports Analytics Conference.

Open to the campus and the public, the Oct. 28 event will feature experts from across the nation to discuss hot topics such as spatial tracking of NBA players and the latest research on concussions in the NFL. ESPN’s Brian Burke, one of the leading voices in NFL analytics, will be giving the keynote talk on “The Analytic Kill Chain,” which will focus on his own personal military experience to explain the sequence of processes that lead to accomplishing and assessing a mission.

Other notable specialists will join Burke, including:

  • Christine Baugh, Harvard Medical School
  • Luke Bornn, Sacramento Kings
  • Peter Carr, Disney
  • Rob Engel, Major League Baseball Advanced Media
  • Karim Kassam, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Brian Macdonald, Florida Panthers

“We are very excited to showcase the modern, advanced sports analytics research currently being done in professional sports and on the Carnegie Mellon campus as well as welcome back many of our Carnegie Mellon alumni currently working in sports analytics,” said Rebecca Nugent, associate head of the Department of Statistics and Data Science. “Given the rapid growth and direct impact of research in this field, we look forward to making this conference an annual event.”

One familiar face will be three-time CMU statistics alumnus Sam Ventura, who spent the past two years as an analytics consultant for the Pittsburgh Penguins and is now their director of hockey research.

Ron Yurko, who received his undergraduate degree in statistics from CMU in 2015 and is now a Ph.D. student in the Statistics and Data Science Department, is co-organizing the event. Yurko and Maksim Horowitz created nflscrapR, statistical software that accesses data from every NFL play since 2009. Yurko will be presenting the latest nflscrapR research on a novel approach to evaluating offensive players in the NFL.

“This is an excellent opportunity for students to hear about the latest research in the field and engage with top individuals in the sports industry,” Yurko said.

CMU’s Sports Analytics Conference is sponsored by the Department of Statistics and Data Science and the CMU Sports Analytics Club. The conference will take place in Baker Hall’s Giant Eagle Auditorium. The Tartan Data Science Cup, which will focus on the nflscrapR software, will be held the following day on Oct. 29. Burke will be one of the judges.

Find out how to register and learn more about the Sports Analytics Conference.