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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.
Jessica R. Murfree

"In the increasingly scrutinized and unpredictable era of intercollegiate athletics, it is imperitive for athletics administrators to enact data-driven decisions.  Many of the issues that have plauged our industry since inception are rooted in the lack of organizational structure that integrates athletics within the academy (due to the damaging amateur ideologies). My hope is to empower industry leaders by building bridges and providing data about the impact of intercollegiate athletics."

Erianne Weight's research is focused on the intersection of sport and higher education, college sport organizational structure and culture, and the pursuit of expertise. She has served as the President of the North American Society for Sport Management, Chair of the UNC Faculty Athletics Committee, and a consultant for LEAD1 Association and Collegiate Sports Associates. She earned her Ph.D. in Sport Marketing and Management from Indiana University, and her Master of Business Administration and B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Utah where she also competed as a heptathlete and graduate assistant track coach. She is a Research Fellow for the College Sport Research Institute, has published 3 books, over 100 refereed articles and book chapters, has consulted for over 30 organizations, and has given roughly 150 invited and refereed research presentations. 

Jessica Murfree is an Assistant Professor of Sport Administration and Hyde Family Foundation Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Murfree researches the effects of climate change on sport through societal implications of climate risks and environmental disparities.


Her expertise has informed environmental organizations like UNEP, Climate Week NYC, Climate Central, and Ocean Conservancy. She has advised sport organizations including the Green Sports Alliance, Texas A&M Athletics, the Pac 12, jr. NBA, and the Sport Positive Summit. She has contributed to sport industry conversations in Forbes, Sports Illustrated, Scientific American, and The Athletic. She is a 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Sports Honoree, and she earned Yale University’s School of Public Health Certificate in Climate Change and Health. 


A scuba diver, ecologist, and animal lover, Dr. Murfree earned a B.A. in Exercise and Sport Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a M.A. in Kinesiology from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in Sport Administration from the University of Louisville.

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.


Tony Patterson

Tony Patterson joined the Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics in 2022. Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Patterson was Associate Professor in Kinesiology and Recreation Administration at North Carolina Central University. His research interests include the role that sport and recreation play in academic performance, noncognitive skills, and social capital across the lifespan with an emphasis on Black males. Dr. Patterson also explores cultural preferences in sport and recreation involvement with members of minoritized communities.


A native North Carolinian, Dr. Patterson earned a B.S. in Business Administration (1996) and an M.S. in Recreation Administration (2001) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at UNC as an undergraduate he found a part-time position in Campus Recreation which led him to a career in Higher Education. He has held roles in housing and residential life, scholarships and student aid, and campus activities. Seeing firsthand the significant role sport and recreation can have in one’s life led him to pursue a doctorate in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at NC State University (2015).


Dr. Patterson has numerous research articles, conference presentations, and continues to build his research agenda. He is also a father and husband with two children. He serves on the board of nonprofits in the Durham and Chapel Hill area and is a youth coach with multiple teams in soccer, basketball, and flag football.

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Angela Pratt

Angela Pratt joined the Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics in 2023. Her sport industry experience includes posts in public relations, marketing, and sales at nonprofit, university, and professional sport organizations. Her research spans the categories of sport administration, strategic communication, gender and sport communication, and qualitative research methods.


Dr. Pratt earned her doctoral degree from the University of Tennessee, her master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her undergraduate degree from Campbell University. She is currently the chair of the International Association for Communication and Sport (IACS).

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