BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – After Sunday’s AFC Championship game, football fans around the country became reacquainted with the Cincinnati Bengals’ rallying cry, “Who Dey?” They probably included a few people around Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, in support of two members of the Bengals who also are earning their MBAs through a partnership with the NFL Players Association.
But others, particularly those with West Coast ties, might have shouted “Whose House?” in support of their beloved Rams and a third Kelley student who will be part of the big game.
Bengals’ starting center Trey Hopkins and linebacker Jordan Evans and the Rams’ cornerback Grant Haley are among more than 110 current and former NFL players who are pursuing an online MBA or Master of Science degree or a graduate certificate through a partnership between Kelley and the NFLPA.
Another 50 players have improved their financial literacy through courses offered by Kelley since the partnership began in 2014.
“For nearly a decade, Kelley Executive Degree Programs and the NFLPA have partnered to offer our MBA and MS programs to current and former players,” said Rich Magjuka, faculty chair of Executive Degree Programs and the Fred G. Steingraber Chair in Distributed Education.
“During this period, our NFL players have distinguished themselves in their course work. Their dedication, discipline and intellectual contributions to our programs have greatly increased the quality of learning in our programs. EDP is fortunate to have a great partner in the NFLPA and to the players of the NFL,” Magjuka added.
While viewers can look forward to seeing Hopkins hiking the ball to star quarterback Joe Burrow at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, Evans was injured in in the fifth week of the season, in a game against the Green Bay Packers, and is out for the season. Both players have spent their entire NFL careers with the Bengals.
Hopkins and Evans also continue a tradition of Kelley student success off and on the field. Recent Super Bowls have featured students who celebrated with the Lombardi Trophy, which goes to the winning team. Last year, they included two members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan Griffin and Cameron Brate, and in 2020, then-Kansas City Chief Tanoh Kpassagnon.
They also have included three members of the 2019 New England Patriots — Stephen Gostkowski, Ted Karras, Joseph Thuney (who was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs this season) – and Philadelphia Eagle Corey Graham in 2018.
Kelley is a leader in online education. In 1999, Kelley Direct became the first online MBA offered by a top-ranked business school. In addition to the NFL Players Association, Kelley offers specialized graduate programs for employees at companies such as General Motors, General Electric, Cummins Inc. and Booz Allen Hamilton.
Magjuka observed that NFL players enrolled at Kelley share something in common with other students – an appreciation for working successfully with others towards a common goal.
“Part of an athlete’s training is learning how to improve. To learn to improve is rooted in being able to accurately look at where you’ve fallen short and where you’ve had a failure. If you can’t accurately diagnose what you’re doing wrong, then it’s very difficult to improve,” he said. “I think that’s a trait, a characteristic, that athletes bring to their studies and their work with other students that is very important.”
If you’d like to learn more about the program, Magjuka and two former NFL players Lester Archambeau and Andy Studebaker were interviewed in 2019 by Kelley’s ROI Podcast. The former players shared unique perspectives gained through their football careers to business.
Editor’s note: This article was revised after receiving additional information about a third Kelley student, Grant Haley, playing in the big game. We have Kelley pride for all of our students, no matter what uniform they wear.