Wall Street Journal NCAA Special Section Features Wake Forest MA Program

3.12.2012 Article, General, School News

According to former student-athletes, the lessons last a lifetime
Reposted from Wall Street Journal NCAA Special Section | by Joe Mullich

Barry Sorrels, a criminal defense attorney in Dallas, says the most important training he received for his career came not in law school, but on the football field playing safety for Columbia University, where he was first-teamall-Ivy League.

"Every asset, every tool that's important in a courtroom I learned from football," he says. "My coach used to say, 'play like you practice,' so we practiced intensely and were well prepared. To this day, I’ll take an average lawyer who's well prepared over a brilliant lawyer who's shooting from the hip."

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) ismade up of 1,079 institutions across three divisions. More than 430,000 college students take part in intercollegiate athletics each year, with some 54,000 competing in the NCAA’s 89 championships in 23 sports.

Most of these student-athletes end up "going pro" in something other than sports.

Only 1.7 percent of football student-athletes and 1.2 percent of men's basketball student-athletes become professional athletes. But their participation in sports has been linked to success both in the classroom and in their future careers.

Student-athletes graduate at a higher rate than the general student body, with more than 80 percent of Division 1 student-athletes earning their degrees within six years. A study conducted in 2010 found that nearly a third of former student-athletes earn an M.B.A, Ph.D., M.D. or other post-graduate degree.

Indeed, last year the Wake Forest Schools of Business began to formally recruit student-athletes for the college's prestigious Master of Arts in Management program. Currently, 14 of the 96 participants in the program are former student athletes.

The program administrators note that while placement for all students is excellent, it has been especially good for the student-athletes.

"In my 30 years in the business world, I have found that what an athlete brings to the workplace is discipline, teamwork, a drive for success, the desire to be held accountable and a willingness to have their performance measured," said Steve Reinemund, dean of Wake Forest University Schools of Business and retired chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. "Those characteristics are very valued in the marketplace, especially in career fields such as finance, sales and marketing."

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