BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – In advance of Super Bowl Sunday, much of the national conversation was focused on the two teams that would be on the field. But two students at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business also were in the spotlight that weekend – Alec Ingold and Tanoh Kpassagnon – who are earning MBAs through a partnership between Kelley and the NFL Players Association.
Ingold, a fullback, was the Las Vegas Raiders’ nominee for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Given annually, the award is recognized as the league’s most prestigious honor and recognizes NFL players “for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.”
All 32 Man of the Year nominees received a $40,000 donation in their name to the charity of their choice, and the winner, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, received a $250,000 donation to his Why Not You Foundation.
Ingold has devoted much of his time and energy off the field raising funds for and serving nutritious meals to others in need, supporting the Special Olympics and spreading awareness about the need and importance for foster and adoptive families.
“It’s kinda cool. You get to put on a (Raiders) helmet and shoulder pads, you get to be the outlaw, you get to be a bully. You get to be with a bunch of guys that love playing football,” Ingold told NFL.com. “[You get to be part of] that whole aura on Sundays. And then Tuesday you can go out and help a community and see a spark in a kid’s eyes. It is cool doing both of those things.”
Ingold was active in a “Get Out and Vote” campaign in Nevada and he offered his support to Special Olympics competitors from Nevada and California by way of a “Virtual Fall Sports & Fitness” workout. In Las Vegas, Ingold aided the Three-Square Food Bank’s Coronavirus Emergency Food Fund in providing 31,000 healthy meals for kids, veterans and furloughed workers and he also served meals to first- and second-graders at Jack Dailey Elementary.
But as someone with adoptive parents, he has earmarked AdoptUSKids as the recipient of the NFL’s donations. Ingold earned a degree in personal finance at the University of Wisconsin, where he played for the Badgers.
“We’re very proud of Alec. Once again, a Kelley student is being recognized for service to the community and all-around excellence,” said Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of the Kelley School of Business and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management. “Alec exhibits the Kelley values of service, teamwork, and tenacity, and he understands the impact and importance of sharing his talents to help others. Congratulations to Alec — he is a model for creating momentum on and off the field.”
Other nominees included Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots and Jacoby Brissett of the Indianapolis Colts.
While Ingold was recognized for his efforts off the gridiron, among those playing in the big game was Kpassagnon, starting linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, who is continuing his business education at Kelley after earning a degree in finance and accounting from Villanova University.
In an article in the Kansas City Star, Kpassagnon discussed how important education has been to his family. Both of his parents have doctorates.
“I kind of joke around with my mom, I tell her I got a Ph.D in football instead,” Kpassagnon told the Star. “I’m still taking classes now. I just signed up for Kelley Business School at (Indiana University) online. I’m still continuing my education for sure.”
Before being drafted by the Chiefs in the second round, Kpassagnon interned for two summers with PricewaterhouseCoopers, an experience he called “irreplaceable.”
Two members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also in Kelley’s program — backup quarterback Ryan Griffin and tight end Cameron Brate. Another student, Bryan Witzmann Bryan, has been on the Chiefs’ practice squad
Since 2014, more than 100 current and former NFL players have pursued an online MBA or Master of Science degree or a graduate certificate through a partnership between Kelley and the National Football League Players Association.
Kpassagnon is following another Kansas City Chief, Lake Dawson, in earning an MBA from Kelley. Dawson, a 2017 graduate and today assistant director of college scouting for the Buffalo Bills, returned to IU Bloomington to speak to online MBA and MS graduates two years later.