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School’s New MBA Program for Artists and Athletes in the Spotlight at Sports Lawyers Association/Duane Morris Panel Discussion

October 09, 2015
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anuj mehrotra with former athletes at panel

From left to right: Anuj Mehrotra, Vice Dean, School of Business,
University of Miami; Jason Taylor, Former Miami Dolphins Great;
Keith Askins, Former Miami Heat Player and Coach; and Ken
Shropshire, Special Counsel, Duane Morris LLP, David W. Hauck
Professor and Director, Wharton Sports Business Initiative,
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

The School’s Anuj Mehrotra, vice dean for graduate business programs and executive education, shared the stage with former professional athletes Oct. 8 to discuss the all-too-common pitfalls that come with earning oversized paychecks for a limited amount of time. It’s a problem that players can avoid with the proper game plan, and Mehrotra outlined how the School’s Miami Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes can offer just that.

Athletes and sports lawyers listened intently to details of the School’s innovative program throughout the roundtable discussion co-hosted by the School of Business, Duane Morris and the Sports Lawyers Association.

“There are lots of articles telling us that artists and athletes tend to do very well in their respective fields and still end up having financial trouble,” Mehrotra said. “For them to succeed in their future lives and make the right investments, an MBA can be very helpful.”

It’s something fellow panelists – former Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor and former Heat player Keith Askins – would have appreciated when they were starting out.

Like many players, Taylor was impressed by the size of his paycheck. Then he learned about deductions. The government (“Social security? I’m 22! What do I need social security for?”), tickets (“Family and friends want to come see your games, and they hit you for $1,000!”), and timing (“As a football player, you get eight paychecks a year. Once December ends, you don’t get paid until the following September!”).  

“It’s young guys getting a crazy amount of money very quickly, and I was a victim of it,” Taylor said. “You get that wakeup call.”

Back when Taylor went pro, his off-season was only six weeks and players barely had enough time to rest and recuperate before they were back on the field. These days, with a collectively bargained longer off-season, he says, “there are resources if you’re willing to use them, more time to take advantage of programs like the one at the University of Miami.”

Mehrotra said there is a clear need for these professionals to learn how to leverage their success into long-term financial security, especially given their short prime earning years.

“We hear many stories from people coming into the program of not growing up with this kind of money, and when they get it, it tends to go very fast because a lot of people are surrounding them,” he said. “They have the temptation of being able to invest in things but not the training to assess those investments.”

The School launched the 18-month program right after this year’s Super Bowl with 40 players (half current, half retired), teaching them skills ranging from how to understand their balance sheets to the best way to select professional advisers.

The program was designed with every attention to the unique details of the participant’s lives. Athletes, of course, are a competitive bunch so the professors had to instruct them to stop studying at midnight. “They were staying up till two in the morning, and I was getting calls from agents that they couldn’t be in the program because they have to be at their workouts in the morning!” Mehrotra said.

They make good business school students, he said: “They have all the skills they use as athletes. They have an impressive work ethic, they’re very competitive, and they have extremely good leadership skills. These are the same skills you need in business, whether it’s for-profit or philanthropy.”

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