Thunderbird to provide professional football players with the skills to succeed off the field

December 1, 2009

Thunderbird School of Global Management has developed its first professional certificate program to help current and retired NFL players secure their futures beyond football.

The two-week business management certificate program is designed to help participants transition to new careers after football through development of business skills and personal sustainability plans.

Within two years of retirement, many NFL players go bankrupt or face financial stress, according to a March 2009 report in Sports Illustrated magazine. Lack of business and financial knowledge and making poor or risky investments play a large role in this.

“This program is designed to point athletes in the right direction,” said Terrell Jones, co-founder of AVT Global LLC and founder and CEO of TJones Group, LLC, consulting groups that are collaborating with Thunderbird on the program. Jones spent eight years in the NFL as a strength and conditioning coach. His career included work with the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“It is never too early for professional athletes to prepare for a second career and to take control of their off-field affairs,” Jones said. “This program will provide the players with very valuable, foundational information into the business world.”

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer will be among participants in the program. Only six years into his NFL career, the 27-year-old, says, “I’m really excited because it’s really going to help me transition to life after football, and it just gives you those business intangibles that you need to get out there and be comfortable as far as being able to analyze a bad deal from a good deal and knowing the proper procedures, checks and balances to take in each deal.”

The comprehensive two-week program will feature interactive sessions and discussions led by Thunderbird’s world-class faculty, as well as a slate of high-profile guest speakers, including entrepreneur and former NFL defensive lineman Junior Bryant and Thunderbird alumnus Kim Williams, Chief Operating Officer of NFL Network..

“This is a unique and interactive learning environment specifically developed with the NFL players in mind,” said Thunderbird Professor Rich Ettenson, Ph.D., academic director of the program. “The content is hands-on and comprehensive by design and develops the players’ skills in all key business functions, whether they are considering a launch of a new business, participation in an existing business, or continued involvement in sports in a management capacity.” 

The program, “Develop Your Skills for High-performance Global Business Success,” includes courses in entrepreneurship, business and global strategy, marketing/brand strategy, global finance, effective business leadership, strategic business negotiation, business communication and management professionalism.

It will take place Feb. 22 to March 5, 2010 on Thunderbird’s campus in Glendale, Ariz. Participants in the program will receive a Business Management Certificate upon completion, as well as receive up to $5,000 credit toward a Thunderbird Executive MBA degree.

For more information on this program, please contact Thunderbird Corporate Learning director Jaro Horvath at or 602-978-7033. Registration deadline is Jan. 8, 2010.