After the final snap Sunday (February 4), one or more of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business MBA candidates will be a Super Bowl champion. The Kelley School has confirmed that one Philadelphia Eagles player and three New England Patriots are currently enrolled in a special master’s program administered in partnership with the NFL Players Association.
In the Pats huddle, current Kelley students are kicker Stephen Gostkowski, guard Ted Karras, and guard Joseph Thuney. Facing them in the big game will be Eagles defensive back Corey Graham, whose interception against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game helped clinch the Eagles’ first return to the Super Bowl in over a decade. All four players are enrolled at Kelley through a partnership launched in 2014 that allows players to choose from the different master’s programs that Kelley offers. In this case, all four Super Bowl hopefuls are seeking an MBA.
Because of student privacy rules, the school was reluctant to share whether the four players are taking classes this current quarter, and the program’s faculty chair confirmed that NFL players tend to only take classes in the spring and summer sessions — in other words, during the league’s off-season.
“We’re on a quarter system, and usually the players don’t participate in winter or fall quarter,” Richard Magjuka tells Poets&Quants. Magjuka serves as Kelley’s faculty chair for executive degree programs and executive partners. “It’s usually spring and summer semesters they participate the most in. We’ll always have outliers, but that’s pretty much the pattern.” In other words, it’s unlikely any of the players will be checking in for class the day after Sunday’s big game.
FOR NFL PLAYERS, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT KELLEY
The excitement in having a connection to the country’s biggest sporting event is palpable. Yesterday (January 30), the school gave shout-outs to the players on Facebook and on Twitter. “Four Kelley Master’s students have good reason to miss classwork this weekend — playing in the #SuperBowl,” one tweet read.
There’s something about Kelley that jives with the NFL — 86 league employees are currently enrolled there, from players and management types to scouts. So far, five players have completed the program through the NFL partnership launched four years ago; this spring or summer, another 11 are expected to complete master’s degree requirements.
Magjuka, who teaches a human resources course in the program, says what has impressed him about the NFL players is their ability to simply fit in like all the other students. “I don’t want to go into specifics, but we’ve had a couple students who, by any measure, are very well-off individuals and you know, they’re in there participating in conference calls and getting team projects together just like anyone else.”
What’s more, Magjuka says, is the players tend to enjoy the fact that it’s not a program solely for those who play on the gridiron. “They find it very attractive to hear perspectives on business issues around the world from people in organizations like General Motors or some of our international companies.”
Asked which team he hopes will walk away with the Vince Lombardi Trophy this weekend, Magjuka says, “I tend to be nonpartisan, but in this case, I’m rooting for the Eagles. I’m a sucker for the underdog.”