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College sports will become the incubator

Innovation on Campus

Snapchat started at a Stanford frat house. Reddit was founded by University of Virginia roommates. Facebook emerged from the Harvard campus social scene. Dropbox was created by MIT students. There’s a long tradition of tomorrow’s companies being hatched by a few students, and sometimes an encouraging professor, solving a problem that the rest of the world didn’t even realize it had. From finding an endaround to skip lines to enter a stadium and clear security, to making low-cost video production look better, there’s a good chance someone on a college campus will contribute to the solution.


In 2010, a March Madness bracket created by Davidson math professor
Dr. Tim Chartiers and his students at Davidson beat 99.9% of more than 5 million brackets nationally by successfully predicting Cinderella upsets. In 2013, Chartiers and his math students began advising the Davidson Wildcats basketball team on strategy. The next year, when the university left the Southern Conference for the much more challenging Atlantic 10, the Wildcats were predicted to finish 12th. Instead, they won—with Chartiers’ students running all the analytics. Cats Stats has now consulted for the NBA, ESPN and various fantasy sites, and they created the NBA’s popular new “Hustle Stat” used during the 2016 playoffs.


A partnership at Stanford between the football team’s former kicker, Derek Belch, and virtual reality professor Jeremy Bailenson has emerged as the first VR training system that’s already making money and altering the out- come of games. STRIVR is now working with more than a dozen NCAA teams and seven NFL teams.

We have scary stats. We have stats that show that quarterback watched that blitz package 19 times the night before the game—and during the game, he spotted the blitz and it led to a gain of 35 yards.

Derek Belch


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