The Indiana University Kelley School of Business is partnering with the Major League Soccer Players Association to give current and future players a chance to further their education. Through the school’s Executive Degree Program, players will later this year be able to enroll in an online MBA degree, certificate or Master of Science degree program. The MLS Players Association joins more than two dozen other corporate and university partners, including the NFL Players Association, to take part in the program.
Richard Magjuka, faculty chair for the Executive Degree Program, tells Inside INdiana Business, MLS players will bring a diversity of perspectives that will benefit all students.
“The MLS students do not take specific, standalone courses just for them. They might take a finance class with students from Raytheon, General Motors, Purdue School of Agriculture, all of our different partners, and they’ll just all be there together,” said Magjuka. “So, as you can imagine, that helps learning for everybody.”
The MLS Players Association represents some 3,400 current and former players. IU says participants in the program will take part in key features such as the Kelley Capstone Experience to give them the chance to work on real-world strategic projects that directly relate to their personal goals.
“Ensuring players are best-equipped to continue their education during or after their career is a key focus of the MLSPA,” Dan Jones, chief operating officer for the MLS Players Association, said in written remarks. “Partnering with the Kelley School of Business will open a new world of opportunities for our members, both past and present, to take part in a high-caliber program that fits their unique needs and sets them up for continued success off the pitch.”
The Kelley School has had a partnership with the NFL Players Association since 2015 and currently has more than 50 current and former NFL players enrolled.
Magjuka says a small number of participants are those who are on their way to becoming independently wealthy and want to learn the business acumen needed to be better stewards of their own portfolios.
However, the majority of students are those who may have an average career in professional sports and are looking to the future beyond football or soccer.
“They have a very long career [after] their playing days,” said Magjuka. “If you don’t get into coaching, many players want to have a career in business. Then, the benefits of a Kelley online MBA are the same for them as they are for any of our other students.”
In addition to the MLS and NFL players associations, the Kelley School has established partnerships with major corporations, including General Motors, Raytheon Technologies and GE Appliances.
Magjuka says the Executive Degree Programs are not tailored to the specific players from MLS or the NFL.
“We want to attract those athletes that essentially want to be treated the same as everyone else. We stand out in the market in that way,” he said. “What we guarantee is that you’ll receive the same MBA degree, the same education as will everyone else.”
Magjuka adds the school is open to establishing partnerships with additional sports leagues in the future.