Business Programs for Athletes

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Services and Programs for Business Education for Athletes

There are many programs available to professional athletes. I have provided a list of five programs located on campuses across the United States such as Dartmouth, Miami Business School, George Washington University, Harvard Business School and Columbia University. All of the programs are geared toward professional athletes with costs ranging from free to full tuition of over one hundred thousand dollars. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.

Professional Athlete Overview

The National Football League offers many programs to their players including access to the Wharton School for a Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program at the University of Pennsylvania and boot camps in Broadcasting, Personal Finance, Sports Media, Entrepreneurship, Franchising, Real Estate, Asset Classes, The Psychology of Money, and Small Business. The NFL Players Association offers a Tuition Assistance Program to both help players finish college or attend grad school. They also have a relationship with Indiana University's Kelly School of Business that allows players to fit a customized academic program around their busy schedules in order to earn a business degree.
A Career Crossover Job Shadow Program is offered to players by the NBA. The programs help to expose them to different types of businesses and other industries not related to sports. NBA Players Association offers off-season programs while the NBA also offers players the opportunity to take classes on business and financial matters. Greg Taylor, senior vice president of player development for the NBA said, “We know our guys have spent an inordinate amount of their lifetimes preparing for basketball. That’s how you become best in the world. So what we try to focus on, from a player development standpoint, are … programs that help them to think through and prepare for that career transition after their basketball career is over.”

Professional Athlete Programs

The Next Step Certificate Program

This program is for military veterans and elite athletes trying to figure out the next step in their careers. It is a two-week Next Step Certificate Program with three main areas that include professional acumen, business leadership, and career development. The program develops this knowledge through a combination of classes, workshops, and networking at the Tuck School as well as Dartmouth College campuses. This is the only program that brings together both veterans and athletes to work on their leverage, discipline, problem-solving, team building and operational skills. Alumni gave the program a 4.9 out of 5. Of 2017 Next Step Alumni, 64% received a job offer or a promotion post-program, 85% feel more confident and 90% feel more prepared. The current cost is $1,500 which includes tuition, program materials, most meals, and accommodation on the Dartmouth College campus. A non-refundable $500 deposit is also required.

Miami Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes

This program is designed for professional athletes, artists, musicians, and actors. It teaches strong individuals how to, “leverage their current career achievements into business success.” The program is 18 months in length and 42 credits. It requires six two-week modules at their main campus as well as three seven-week distance learning modules. Participants have included NFL players Jerome Felton and Robert Blanton. The program has increased the number of NFL players who returned to the classroom from 125 each off season to 181. In 2016, 31 players received their degrees while 30 others finished their first year. There is a $2,200 enrollment fee plus the cost of tuition which is $105,000.

Sports Philanthropy Executive Certificate Program

Sports Philanthropy Executive Certificate Program classes are taken through an online course system but there is also a residency that will be taken in-person. The program consists of ten courses that are taught by industry experts. The cost of tuition covers all materials. The program is the first of its kind to be tailored around the unique needs of individuals who work for professional sports teams, leagues, athletic foundations and sports-related companies. This program is partnered with the George Washington Sports Management MBA Program which is, "ranked the #3 postgraduate sports business program in the country by SportBusiness International Magazine." The program has 100 alumni from 8 professional athletic associations, 19 professional sports teams, and 8 different countries. It currently costs $4,000 or $3,750 for those who pay early.

Crossover Into Business by Harvard Business School

This program was designed to help athletes prepare for life both during and after their athletic careers in business-related activities. The Crossover program pairs athletes with student mentors who can help them to develop their business acumen. The program also uses the Harvard Business School case method to help empower the athletes to become better decision makers when it comes to business in a way that fits into their hectic schedules, while still appealing to their interests. In the fall of 2017, the first pilot program began with a partnership with the NBA and it included ten active or recently active players. Past participants include Al-Farouq Aminu, Caron Butler, Chris Bosh, Pat Connaughton, Chris Copeland, Solomon Hill, Dahntay Jones, Wayne Selden Jr., Lance Thomas, and Jarrod Uthoff. The program will be expanding to include athletes of other sports as well. This program is currently free for professional athletes.

Entrepreneurship for Professional Athletes

This program is designed to provide professional athletes with the tools they need to launch new for-profit or non-profit business ventures by creating a plan that will be integral to realizing their vision. Participants in the program will develop a real business idea and create everything needed to present it to investors. The program not only features Columbia Business School faculty but a list of guest speakers as well. Participants of the program will have an expanded professional network upon completion as well as a developed toolkit for creative business ideas and pitches. This program costs $9,950 and has two in-person modules with accompanying online sessions. They also offer Venture Investing for Professional Athletes. The two programs combined are a month long program. This is a brand new initiative announced in January of 2018 so there is nothing to indicate its popularity as of yet, however; Dil Sidhu, associate dean of Columbia Business School Executive Education said, “Our goal is to ensure that professional athletes are armed with the business acumen and investment skills to be successful as they pursue a new type of competition on a different playing field.”


While some of these programs are pricey, there are also programs available to athletes to help with the costs. Schools across the country are developing programs and curriculums for retired and active professional athletes in order to help them transition out of active professional sports. Whether they want to remain in the industry, try something new or open their own business, there are a lot of options for professional athletes after retirement.