A new Artificial Intelligence (AI) sports analytics course at Morehouse College may be among the first of its kind at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“The promise of AI in sports is emerging; leveraging sports is a perfect pathway to expose our HBCU students to the foundational principles of AI and address the wealth gap by better positioning them for the in-demand jobs of the future,” Student Freedom Initiative Executive Director Dr. Mark A. Brown said in a news release.
Brown leads this nonprofit organization, which works to reduce the wealth gap through the lens of education.
The for-credit pilot-year course is housed at the all-male Morehouse College but is open to students at Morehouse, Clark Atlanta University, and the all-women’s Spelman College who are majoring in math, physics, and engineering. Stats Perform’s chief scientist, Dr. Patrick Lucey, will teach the course, working in connection with Morehouse faculty.
“Stats Perform has been the pioneer of AI in the basketball space for well over a decade, not only with our computer vision systems to collect player and ball tracking data, but also with our predictive models using machine learning,” Lucey said in a statement.
“We are excited to show the students some of the many ways AI can take basketball to new levels for teams, players, media organizations, fans, and others.”
Dr. Alfred R. Watkins, computer science department chair at Morehouse, said the partnership with Student Freedom Initiative and Stats Perform was “very intentional” to benefit students from these three Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) HBCUs to harness “specific learning and career opportunities within high-demand, high-growth sectors of the economy.”
Students who complete the AI in Basketball course can apply for a limited number of internships with Stats Perform, with the potential for these internships to transition into full-time employment.
“At Stats Perform, we recognize the immense impact of DEI efforts on our communities, and on our own success and growth,” Stats Perform CEO Carl Mergele said.
“Representation plays a vital role in fostering innovation and driving our collective potential to new heights.”
Deemed “the leading provider in sports data collection and predictive analysis,” Stats Perform is a portfolio company of Vista Equity Partners, whose chairman and CEO Robert F. Smith paid off the student debt for the Morehouse graduating class of 2019, thus making this current partnership a fit.
Additionally, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported that Smith’s $50 million gift helped launch the Student Freedom Initiative in 2021.
Student Freedom Initiative COO Keith B. Shoates hopes other firms make similar long-term investments in Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and their students.
“Targeted, strategic public-private partnerships that include measurable outcomes between MSIs and innovative companies like Stats Perform will continue to be the accelerant to transformative change,” he said.