With ‘March Madness’ Looming, NPR Profiles Unique ’Cats Stats Athletics-Math Partnership

Tim Chartier writes math equations on a glass board

This weekend, WBUR’s one-hour sports show, “Only A Game,” told the origin story of ’Cats Stats, a student-run sports analytics organization that bridges Davidson athletics and academics.

The ’Cats Stats story starts in 2013, when math professor Tim Chartier partnered with three senior math students—Miles Abbett, Seth King and Ford Higgins—who pitched him on introducing analytics to the Davidson men’s basketball team.

“I mean, from a professor point of view, I have three students asking if they can do more math with me, so I was like, ‘Of course!’” Chartier said.

But Chartier knew it might be a tough sell to the team. So, he reached out to Wildcats Associate Head Coach Matt McKillop—then an assistant coach—and the two refined the students’ work and finessed its introduction to the coaching staff. Head Coach Bob McKillop needed a bit longer to see the value of the data the students were producing. He’s fully on-board now, even if he doesn’t show it.

“He’s the kind of guy that will be like, ‘Ah, I don’t even want to think about analytics.’ But then he’ll plan a practice, and it’ll be designed to emphasize certain things that we talked about,” Matt McKillop said.

Seven years later, ’Cats Stats has exploded in size and reach: It now claims more than 80 students who work with a wide range of Davidson’s teams, including baseball, soccer, volleyball and even swimming.

The full story is available in both text and audio formats through WBUR

Follow @CatsStats on Twitter.


  • January 21, 2020