BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – As millions of people turn their attention to Las Vegas, site of Super Bowl 2024, millions of fans and a certain superstar singer will be cheering on the Kansas City Chiefs. But many faculty members at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business also will be pulling for the team of one of their former students, Joe Thuney, an offensive lineman for the Chiefs.
Thuney took advantage of a partnership between Kelley and the NFL Players Association that offers MBA and Master of Science programs to current and former NFL players.
Since 2014, more than 200 veterans of the gridiron have pursued either degree or a graduate certificate online through the partnership. Sixty-eight players have graduated with an MBA or MS degree and another 20 have completed certificates. There currently are 56 active NFLPA affiliated students enrolled in a certificate or degree program.
The degree programs are delivered online by the Kelley School’s Kelley Executive Education Programs, which has more than 40 years of experience designing, developing, and deploying custom educational programs.
Last June, the Kelley School announced a similar partnership with the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, which represents current WNBA players. It also has a partnership with the Major League Soccer Players Association.
Thuney, a 2020 Kelley graduate, is headed back to the Super Bowl for the sixth time, although he likely won’t play due to an injury he suffered in this season’s divisional playoff game against the Buffalo Bills.
He is the only player in NFL history to start in the Super Bowl in each of his first three seasons, celebrating Super Bowl wins with his New England Patriots teammates in 2017 and 2019. This will be his third trip to the Super Bowl with the Chiefs. He also is a two-time Pro Bowl selection and made the Associated Press All-Pro first team for the first time this season.
Recent Super Bowls have featured other students who celebrated with the Lombardi Trophy, which goes to the winning team. Others who recently celebrated a Super Bowl win have included the Los Angeles Rams’ cornerback Grant Haley in 2022, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ryan Griffin and Cameron Brate in 2021, Kansas City Chief Tanoh Kpassagnon in 2020, New England Patriots Stephen Gostkowski (2015, 2017 and 2019) and Ted Karras (2017 and 2019) and Philadelphia Eagle Corey Graham in 2018.
“It was a lot of hard work, but I thought very well worth it,” Thuney said of his Kelley MBA in 2020, adding that one of the most beneficial parts of the program was working with others – as with football.
“There was a lot of group-work, collaborating, how to communicate well with your teammates what your strengths are, what you can help the team with,” he said. “That was one aspect, and then just working through problems. There were some hard assignments and football teaches you to keep working, keep your head down and keep grinding away. That helped too. Be persistent about it, just one thing after another.”
In addition to Thuney, many Hoosier fans will be pulling for Chiefs player Cam Jones, who played for five seasons as a member and three-time captain of the IU football team. Unfortunately, the linebacker also is unlikely to play, having suffered an injury in the Chiefs’ wildcard game against the Miami Dolphins.