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August 17, 2023

Stats Perform Partners with the Student Freedom Initiative and Morehouse College to Train the Next Generation of Artificial Intelligence Professionals from HBCUs

Creating diverse talent, focused on Artificial Intelligence, at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC)

WASHINGTON, DC – August 17, 2023 – Today, Student Freedom Initiative announced a long-term strategic partnership with Morehouse College and Stats Perform, global leader in AI solutions for the sports industry, to create an “AI in Basketball” course. The partnership aims to offer education about applications of AI in sport, provide internships, and expand job opportunities upon graduation for students attending AUCC member institutions.

Through the effective use of AI, organizations can use systems to help humans make better decisions. Recently, Fortune highlighted the fact that “[t]he newest AI systems can recognize individual players, movements, plays, or patterns without human eyes viewing a screen. That means a coach can find the exact footage he or she needs without searching through hours of video.” According to Mark A. Brown, Ed.D., Executive Director at Student Freedom Initiative, “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.”

The AI in Basketball course aims to harness the promise of AI in sports for the benefit of HBCU students. The for-credit class, which launches this fall on Morehouse’s campus, will welcome students from Morehouse, Spelman College, and Clark University who have chosen majors in the areas of math, physics, and engineering. Dr. Patrick Lucey will teach the course, Chief Scientist at Stats Perform, 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,” explains Dr. Lucey. “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, and see it as the perfect vehicle for students to get a deep understanding on how AI can be used across many fields.”

“As this specific corporate-academic partnership with Stats Perform was being designed, we collectively agreed to be very intentional,” said Dr. Alfred R. Watkins, Department Chair for Computer Science, at Morehouse College. “We sought a long-term industry partner, the inclusion of all three HBCUs in the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC), and specific learning and career opportunities within high-demand, high-growth sectors of the economy for our students.”

As the leading provider in sports data collection and predictive analysis—and as 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—Stats Perform was a natural fit. Stats Perform’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion played a key role as well. CEO Carl Mergele commented, “At Stats Perform, we recognize the immense impact of DEI efforts on our communities, and on our own success and growth. Representation plays a vital role in fostering innovation and driving our collective potential to new heights.” “Stats Perform is thrilled to establish this partnership with the Atlanta University Center Consortium and the Student Freedom Initiative, and we look forward to driving change and hopefully creating a model for this type of program that others can follow,” said Mergele.

Employment opportunities will form an important part of the new partnership. Students who complete the AI in Basketball course will be able to apply for a limited number of internships with Stats Perform, with the potential for these internships to transition into full-time employment.

“Targeted, strategic public-private partnerships that include measurable outcomes between Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and innovative companies like Stats Perform will continue to be the accelerant to transformative change,” according to Keith B. Shoates, Chief Operating Officer, Student Freedom Initiative. “We are hopeful that other firms continue to make similar long-term investments in our MSIs and their students.”

About Student Freedom Initiative
A single purpose nonprofit organization, Student Freedom Initiative’s vision is to reduce the wealth gap through the lens of education. This vision is achieved through four pillars and associated outcomes: (1) Commercial alternative to Parent PLUS loans (Reduce student debt burden), (2) Internships & Certifications (Increase job readiness), (3) Comprehensive Support (Increase student persistence), and (4) Minority Serving Institutions (“MSIs”) Capacity Building (Increase resilience and competitiveness).  Student Freedom Initiative collaborates with community-based organizations, businesses, and governmental entities through public-private partnerships to make sustainable, systemic changes to support the entire MSI ecosystem. Student Freedom Initiative has received contributions and/or recognitions from Robert F. Smith, Fund 2 FoundationCiscoJane StreetPrudential FinancialCapitalOne, Visa FoundationFirst Republic FoundationWalmart.orgBase10Pivotal AdvisorsBivium Capital, and the Business Roundtable’s Racial Equity & Justice Subcommittee on Education.

To learn more, visit or find us on Twitter @StudentFreedom.

Student Freedom Initiative
Mia Yi

About Stats Perform
Stats Perform is the market leader in sports technology providing the most trusted sports data and the latest advancements in applying AI and machine learning to deliver better predictions for teams, sportsbooks and a more engaging broadcast, media and fan experience. The company collects the most detailed sports data to create new experiences across sports. Leveraging the richest sports database, Stats Perform enhances sports competition and entertainment through machine learning and computer vision to create advanced predictions and analysis – be that for digital and broadcast media with differentiated storytelling, tech companies with reliable and fast data to power their innovations, sportsbooks with in-play betting and integrity services, or teams with first-of-its-kind AI analysis software.

Stats Perform
Simon Smith

About Morehouse College
Founded in 1867, Morehouse College is the nation’s only college founded to educate men of color. Ranked as Georgia’s top liberal arts college for men, Morehouse produces more Black men who go on to receive doctorates than any other college in the country and is a top feeder school for Black men entering prestigious graduate schools and MBA programs. Also named Georgia’s #1 small college, Morehouse educates a selective group of 2,200 students each year, 60 percent of whom come from families with household incomes of $40,000 or less, yet many of which are highly recruited by Fortune 500 companies. The College has created more Black male Rhodes Scholars than any other HBCU and has the #1 core curriculum among HBCUs nationally. It is the nation’s top producer of Black male graduates in the social sciences, and the top HBCU producer of Black male graduates in business administration, management, operations, English, foreign languages, Mathematics, statistics, philosophy, religious studies, and physical sciences. As the national epicenter for thought leadership on human rights and equity, Morehouse is committed to helping the nation address the challenges caused by institutional racism, income and health care disparities, lack of access to capital, detrimental public policy, and the need for high-quality education. Learn more about Morehouse College at

D. Aileen Dodd
AVP of Advancement Communications
Morehouse College