Tapping of Northeastern is a good step for the league.
All too often we hear about our favorite athletes going broke once they retire from their respective professional sport.
Of the major four professional leagues in the United States (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL), the NBA and NFL Player’s Associations set the standard for preparing players for life after their playing days are over.
The NBPA has programs such as Sportscaster U., which prepares current NBA players for a post-playing career in broadcasting during the offseason. The NFLPA has initiatives set up for former players through The Trust, which assists them but also has programs such as externships to help current players.
However, the MLBPA did not have any programs or initiatives in place to assist players for life after the game. There are a few reasons this could be, including the fact that MLB contracts include guaranteed money and the season includes 162 games over a six-month span.
Due to the lack of programs in place, I saw a need for a transition program for MLB/MiLB players, which led me to creating a hypothetical post-playing career program as my capstone project during my studies at Georgetown.
This week, however, it seems the MLB took a page out of my capstone project and partnered with Northeastern University to create a partnership allowing and encouraging players looking to begin or complete their degrees at Northeastern.
This deal is a first of its kind between MLB and a university, as the league looks to ensure that team education funds are used at schools with a strong academic reputation.
Players drafted out of high school, who have signed a NLI with a university, have a clause built into their first contract stating the team will pay for the player to take classes at the school to which he committed.
However, once these players begin their careers, they usually never take advantage of this opportunity — until now.
According to Paul Misfud, MLB’s Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Labor Relations and Player Programs, the deal will not prevent players from attending the accredited institution of their choice, but if they are looking for recommendations, they will be nudged toward Northeastern.
The Boston-based school is not unfamiliar with helping professionals earn their degrees. Four years ago, the school partnered with the Boston Ballet to help dancers earn their degrees both online and on-campus.
Twenty dancers took advantage of the program, and three have graduated thus far.
Professional baseball, on the other hand, has 5,000 MiLB and 1,200 MLB players eligible to enroll in the program.
While it is difficult to determine how many players will actually take part in the program, they have various opportunities to either start or complete a degree. Given that players can be drafted multiple times (unlike other leagues), the amount of education varies greatly.
According to Mifsud, MLB hopes this one-year (with option to be renewed annually) contract with Northeastern will be particularly appealing to international players who lack traditional education.
While it seems that Major League Baseball has recruited the knowledge I obtained throughout my capstone project (from countless hours of research, interviews and writing), the league has taken a step towards improving the lives of its athletes after the game.
As the partnership kicks off, it will be interesting to see if other schools attempt to follow suit and sign on as partners. And if anyone in the league office needs any more ideas for future post-playing career initiatives, feel free to reach out (only slightly kidding).
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