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Lead. Inform. Impact.

The Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics facilitates data-driven decision making in intercollegiate athletics.

Erianne A. Weight
Ph.D., M.B.A.
Robert Malekoff

"In the increasingly scrutinized and unpredictable era of intercollegiate athletics, it is imperitive for athletics administrators to enact data-driven decisions.  My hope is to empower industry leaders by providing data about the impact of intercollegiate athletics on their campuses.  Through maximizing the educational value of athletics participation, administrators can highlight objective research on the benefits of participation in intercollegiate athletics that are largely invisible to much of the world and through this effort share a story very different than the one often being told on their behalf.


Erianne Weight's research is directed by the vision of increasing and enhancing opportunities for intercollegiate athletics participation and education with a current focus of quantifying the benefits of participation in intercollegiate athletics.  She is currently a member of the UNC Faculty Executive Board, a research consultant for Collegiate Sports Associates, and an active consultant in intercollegiate athletics.  She earned her Ph.D. in Sport Marketing and Management from Indiana University, and her B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science and M.B.A. from the University of Utah where she competed as a heptathlete.

"Intercollegiate athletics plays an undeniably significant role on campuses nationwide. The challenge for those of us in higher education is in identifying and supporting initiatives that will emphasize the educational value for participating students, and promote seamless alignment with university missions."


Bob Malekoff has had an extensive career in college coaching, athletic administration, and as a professor of sport management. Malekoff served as Director of Research for the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University and was a Senior Advisor for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s College Sports Project, an initiative aimed at maximizing the educational value of intercollegiate athletic participation and promoting the integration of campus academic, athletic, and student life dimensions. Malekoff has written, lectured, and consulted extensively on the role of intercollegiate athletics in higher education, and has regularly commented on college sports for national publications and broadcasts.

Nels Popp

"Today’s college athletic administrators need to take a business-minded approach to management. I want to provide athletic administrators with insights and analysis which help them operate more effectively and efficiently in a variety of business functions such as revenue generation, marketing, public relations, and asset management."


Nels Popp’s research interests include revenue generation for college athletic departments with a particular emphasis on ticket sales. Popp’s work and expertise has been referenced in, Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, and his research has been published in a variety of academic journals. Prior to working in academia, Popp spent over a decade working in media relations for various college athletic departments and a professional basketball club in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. He also has done contract work and volunteered with a variety of sport organizations, including the Super Bowl XLVI Host Committee, the AVP Beach Volleyball Tour, the National Senior Games, the McDonald’s High School All-American Basketball game, and the La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League, a college summer baseball league.


Brad Bates

Bradley J. Bates is an experienced and respected leader in collegiate athletics. He has had a long and storied career as a campus administrator at three highly regarded NCAA Division I universities. He is currently serving as the Vice President of Consulting for Collegiate Sports Associates and a member of the Sport Administration faculty at UNC.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, where he began as a walk-on defensive back before earning a football scholarship under legendary coach Bo Schembechler, Brad holds a master’s degree in education from Michigan and a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University. He was also a member of the faculty at Miami University and Boston College, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in sports administration.

Prior to his appointment at Boston College in 2012, Brad served as Director of Athletics at Miami (O) University for 10 years. His tenures at both BC and Miami included numerous bowl and NCAA Championship appearances and record-setting academic achievements for his teams and student-athletes. Brad began his professional career in college athletics as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Colorado before moving to Vanderbilt in the same role. At Vanderbilt he transitioned into administration and had held positions of increasing responsibility within the athletics department between 1985 and 2002, rising to the position of Senior Associate Director.

He was named Director of Athletics at Miami in 2002. Brad was honored by his peers in 2010 when he was selected as president of the Division IA Athletic Directors Association (now LeAD1 Association). He has served on numerous NCAA and Conference committees and councils, including the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance, the NCAA Championships Cabinet Administrative Committee and the NCAA Football Academic Working Group FBS Retention Sub-Committee.

A native of Michigan, Bates and his wife, Michele, currently reside in Carborro.

Barbara Osborne

“Intercollegiate athletics is an extension of the educational experience, and these learning experiences are valuable for participants in all sports.  My research and services focus on providing equitable opportunities, not only to comply with the law, but to maximize experiences for all student-athletes.”


Barbara Osborne is a lawyer and educator with 14 years of experience as an athletics administrator in intercollegiate athletics.  She has also worked as a legal consultant, coach, public relations coordinator, television sports commentator, publisher, and sports information director.  This experience, combined with degrees in law, sport management, and communications, provides the ability to examine athletics department problems from all angles and recommend realistic solutions that maximize benefits for all stakeholders.  Osborne has worked with a variety of NCAA and NAIA institutions, proactively and reactively, developing strategic plans and policies that are Title IX compliant, as well as providing education and training for University administrators, athletics administrators, coaches and student-athletes.


Jonathan A. Jensen

“While advanced quantitative research methodologies have revolutionized the sport industry and created the new world of sport analytics, progress has been slower off of the field, on the business side of sport organizations. With a wealth of publicly-available data accessible for analysis, the intercollegiate athletics industry is uniquely positioned to benefit from the application of predictive analytics to assist in future marketing, financial, and administrative decision-making.”

A former executive with leading sport and event marketing agencies, Jonathan Jensen serves as an Assistant Professor in the Sport Administration program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a focus on assisting sport organizations and brands in strategic decision-making.

A leading voice in the application of advanced analytics to sport marketing, Dr. Jensen is a two-time finalist in the research paper competition at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. His research on the business of intercollegiate athletics has appeared in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, International Review of Public and Nonprofit Marketing, and International Journal of Sport Communication. He has a particular interest in intercollegiate athletic apparel sponsorships, and has provided perspective on the subject for FOX Business, International Business Times, Portland Business Journal, Columbus Business First, Salt Lake Tribune, Knoxville News Sentinel, and Arizona Republic.


An avid college football fan, Dr. Jensen earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, a M.S. from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

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Danielle Smith
M.B.A., M.S.B.M.

“There is so much value and purpose within intercollegiate athletics, and I hope to inspire leaders of all levels to harness the power of brands from the NCAA, conference, school and student-athlete perspective”.

Danielle Smith’s research interests center around the role that sports can play to better society. Specifically, her focus is on consumer (fan) behavior, corporate social responsibility, and women in sport. She is currently the Director of the UNC Sport Administration undergraduate department, and actively consults for brands and properties who operate within intercollegiate athletics. Prior to transitioning to higher education, Smith served as the Vice President, Brands at global marketing agency, Wasserman, where she worked with numerous brands to maximize their investment in sport.


She is currently pursuing her doctorate at N.C. State University and completed her B.S. in Marketing from the University of Maryland and her M.B.A. and M.S.B.M. from the Devos Program at the University of Central Florida.

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