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Steve Rogers, Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship, leads a classroom discussion with members of the NBA, as a part of the NBPA High Growth Entrepreneurship Program.

Professor Steven Rogers conducts a course for the NPBA

Kellogg partnership with NBA helps players get ready to pass the ball

New executive education program aims at providing pro athletes with business tools for life after the hardwood court

By Aaron Mays

8/13/2008 - Professional athletes are conditioned to deal with hard knocks on the field, but what about the ones that come after their playing days are over, as they try to make the transition from the arena to a whole new game — like entrepreneurship?

With a new executive education initiative, the Kellogg School of Management continues its commitment to building business acumen among pro athletes, giving them a leg up on the competition for a career after sports.

Zaza Pachulia
NBA player Zaza Pachulia of the Atlanta Hawks drives his attention to the front of the class during the NBPA High Growth Entrepreneurship Program, a four-day executive education class for business-minded basketball players.
Photo © Rich Foreman
Desmond Mason
NBA player Desmond Mason of the Milwaukee Bucks raises his hand to join the discussion on entrepreneurship.
Photo © Rich Foreman
While Kellogg previously has partnered with the National Football League to deliver executive education that gives pro players the leadership frameworks to help them move into business, the school now has created a similar offering for athletes in the National Basketball Association.

For the first time at Kellogg, 11 NBA players moved from the court into the classroom as part of the school’s High Growth Entrepreneurship Program, held at the James L. Allen Center from July 27-30.

The average career of a professional basketball player is less than 5 years. Taking that statistic into consideration, the National Basketball Players Association worked with Kellogg to host executive education classes aimed at preparing these athletes to make sound business decisions and get ready for life after the hardwood floor. During the four-day class module, Kellogg School professors offered classes that included business leadership, negotiations, brand building and investing, among other topics.

NBA players from various teams, including Quentin Richardson of the New York Knicks, Desmond Mason of the Milwaukee Bucks and Jeff Foster of the Indiana Pacers, attended classes taught by several of the Kellogg School’s most sought-after professors, including IBM Professor of Regulation and Competitive Practice Daniel Diermeier; Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship Steven Rogers; and Clinical Professor of Marketing Tim Calkins.

Designed by Professor Rogers, the program’s objective was twofold. It provided players with a comprehensive tool kit to help them thrive in the business world. It also emphasized the importance of lifelong learning as a means to pursue a sustainable career.

“We realize that business education is helpful in preparing a person for a career move, especially for professional athletes.” Rogers said. “The program is optional for these NBA players, so their commitment level is high and they want to learn these business principles.”

Rogers plans to extend the program to other athletic associations, including the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and the National Hockey League.

The Kellogg School has long been a leader in executive education, designing thousands of custom courses to address the leadership needs of executives in a range of organizations, including corporations, nonprofits, government and the sporting arena.