Better Know A Faculty: Dr. Jim Lackritz, Statistical Analysis

Throughout the remainder of the year, the Better Know A Faculty series will shed some extra light on the outstanding faculty of San Diego State’s Sports MBA program. These interviews and stories have been compiled throughout the last few years by various Sports MBA classes. Our first Better Know A Faculty will feature Dr. Jim Lackritz, written by Johnny Du, SMBA ’13.

In addition to all the citations below, be sure to check out Dr. Lackritz’s recent feature in the San Diego Union-Tribune business section on the San Diego State Sports MBA Program.

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Dr. Lackritz supporting the Aztecs at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Over the years, he is one of their most loyal fans.

First up in the leadoff spot is one of SDSU Sports MBA’s three “Founding Fathers,” Dr. Jim Lackritz. Dr. Lackritz teaches BA 652: Statistical Analysis, one of four core “foundation” courses that kick off the curriculum each year.

Having joined SDSU in 1977 shortly after obtaining his Ph.D. in Statistics, Dr. Lackritz relinquished full-time teaching and administrative duties in 2010. Now Emeritus Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Business Administration and Emeritus Professor of Management Information Systems, he remains wholly committed to staying involved with the Sports MBA program, even in “retirement.”

Dr. Lackritz through the years!

As someone who probably won’t object too much at the “sports nut” and “stat geek” labels, Dr. Lackritz’s expertise and opinions are frequently sought out, usually having to do with calculating the odds and probabilities of particular events. He has been quoted by Reuters (hereherehere), cited by CNBC’s Darren Rovell (here and here) and provided assistance the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Dr. Lackritz has also been interviewed on many local news broadcasts, typically around March Madness. He was also featured in the August 8, 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated with a piece on golf handicaps. This is on top of his numerous scholarly and research publications in academic journals.

An avid golfer, skier and tennis player, Dr. Lackritz once served as the president of the San Diego District Tennis Association and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for SDDTA, and holds membership at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla. He also has a standing open challenge to anyone in the cohort that wants to do battle with him on the links. His record stands at 2-1, with triumphs over Paul Zickler (SMBA ’12) and Christian Jensen (SMBA ’13, read about it here) and a narrow defeat to Eric Haynie (SMBA ’12).

Dr. Lackritz holds the distinct honor of being given the “big head” treatment at the first-ever SDSU women’s lacrosse match earlier this year (see below).

1. When did you start teaching in the program? How did the opportunity come about?

I have taught all ten cohorts since the inception of the program in 2005. I am one of the faculty co-founders of the program.

2. What do you enjoy most about teaching in the Sports MBA program?

I get to merge my two favorite subject areas – statistics and sports. I enjoy working with students who share my passion for sports, and trying to get them to think “quantitatively” and incorporating data analysis into the strategic and decision-making process. I take great pride in seeing students becoming successful after the program in various areas of the sports business industry.

3. In your respective course, what are the main takeaway(s) you are hoping the cohort gets (or got, if the course has completed)?

I want students to dig into problem-solving so they are not just looking for answers, but can ask the right questions in the process to determine the appropriate steps. I want them to always be looking for data that helps them in the decision-making process, and to be able to dive in and analyze the data so that the results can be meaningfully presented to their boss or employer. Finally, if statistics is not their thing, I want them to be able to understand things well enough to be able to talk to the stat geek who might be doing the number crunching for them, and to at least be able to understand the significance of the results.

4) Someone walks up, says they have been offered admission into SMBA and asks you “Why should I enroll?” Your response is:

What are your goals? Why did you apply? If you want to pursue your passion and dreams to a career in the sports industry, and are willing to bust your tail to do whatever it takes to get there, this is a great place to start. This is a tough industry to break into, and there are no guarantees of the perfect job awaiting you. I would think an opportunity to get an MBA, network with leaders in the field, learn from a multitude of speakers, and volunteer in a variety of events and positions makes for a great start. Rather than take my word for it, you should be interviewing our alumni who have built successful careers to ask them what it took for them to get to this point.

5) Your (hopefully inspirational and uplifting) sports movie of choice is…? Because…?

Everyone thinks I would choose Moneyball, which I liked, but I liked the book better. The most inspirational movie is Hoosiers, for pretty obvious reasons (and I love basketball). But, my favorite of all time is Tin Cup, as I love golf and try not to take myself too seriously. Cheech and Chong are hysterical and remind me of two caddies I had one time when I got to play LA Country Club with my brother. Also, Kevin Costner is not only brilliant (except for his awful golfing skills), but his character is a classic.

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Thanks, Dr. Lackritz! And as promised:

“Dr. Lackritz” is rarely seen without his trusty soda cup.

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Originally post on the San Diego State SMBA Class of 2013 blog