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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Student Entrepreneurs Excel in Student Competition at Sloan Conference

By Brendan O'Hallarn

A trio of graduate students from Old Dominion University finished third in a worldwide business case competition at the prestigious MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston.

The 10th annual conference attracts business leaders from across the sports industry, including representatives of professional teams in all major sports.

The Old Dominion students - Rohit Dalal, Alexandra Iqbal and Fatou Diouf - comprised one of three finalist teams selected from more than 40 in "First Pitch: Graduate School Sports Business Case Competition."

Dalal and Iqbal are graduate assistants at Old Dominion's Strome Entrepreneurial Center. Nancy Grden, executive director of the Strome Center, was thrilled with their success.

"This is fabulous. What a tribute to their initiative and innovation. We are very proud of their success," she said.

In the competition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, teams were to analyze and suggest solutions to a challenging current sports business situation facing the Ticketmaster.

The problem posed to student teams involved finding better ways to partner with NBA teams using the depth and breadth of Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment's online tools and capabilities, additional value services or changes to the way season tickets are priced and sold.

The top three teams - including Old Dominion's - were invited to present their business case at the conference.

The data-driven solutions suggested by the finalist teams will be incorporated into Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment's business practices.

The goal of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is to provide a forum to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry. Founded in 2006, the conference is co-chaired by Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA's Houston Rockets; and Jessica Gelman, vice president of customer marketing and strategy for the Kraft Sports Group.

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics is the largest student-run conference in the world, attracting participants from over 170 schools and representatives from over 80 professional sports teams.

More than 3,900 participants attended this year's conference. They represented 320 academic institutions from around the world, 130 sports teams and leagues and more than 300 industry staffers.