But in the classroom, they were absorbing a foreign language.
“I need to get back in the school mind-set,” said Isaiah Stanback, a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks who hadn’t sat in a college classroom in five years. “There’s a lot of terminology and subject areas that are totally new to me.”
The 22 students are part of the first class in George Washington’s new two-year program called STAR Executive MBA (STAR stands for Special Talent, Access and Responsibility) designed specifically for professional athletes — some active and others recently retired.
The program has a nontraditional schedule aimed to help students balance their studies with their athletic careers. The current group studied in Washington for 10 days this summer. They’ll meet again in New York in February and later next year in Los Angeles. They’ll hit each of the three cities again in the second year of the program. While there is some work and reading assigned during the long gaps between classroom time, the athletes say they have such busy travel and work schedules, the flexibility offered by the program was a huge draw.
Dominique Dawes was in Los Angeles last week for a television audition. Retired from gymnastics 11 years ago after three Olympic appearances, Dawes essentially has run a full-time business off her brand and her name since then.
“It’s all about motivating and empowering young people, especially women, to believe in themselves, to focus on health, fitness and wellness,” the Silver Spring native said. “That’s what my brand has been about. However, this business school experience will help me start businesses that I’ve wanted to start as a young person but didn’t have the knowledge or the skill set at that time to pursue.”
The program carries a price tag of $95,000, and school officials say students receive the same level of education and attention as MBA students in more traditional programs. Their first set of classes includes business ethics, critical perspectives on business and society and financial accounting.
“We never thought about this as a sports marketing program,” said Doug Guthrie, who took over as the business school’s dean last year. “To us, it’s a social responsibility and leadership program. So there’s a big emphasis on leadership, corporate and social responsibility, ethics and giving these people the business skills they need to make the transition beyond their sport.”