Sports STAR’s Enroll in a New Kind of MBA Program

November 4, 2011 · Leave a Comment 

Calling all athletes: George Washington University has just launched an MBA program called the Special Access, Talent and Responsibility program, or “STAR.” It is a business school program that specifically targets athletes and will cater to their schedules. GWU must have read about how MBA programs are in need of changing their business models, because this new program is an attempt to find a niche MBA student – the athlete. They also hope to reach out to athletes because this particular demographic usually finds itself out of work by the time they reach 30 years old.

However many are calling foul about what seems to be “athlete catering,” or giving just one more special privilege to sports players. At least one professor, Kenneth Shropshire of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton, even called the new program’s MBA an “MBA light”. Granted it is not the first time that a university had athlete-targeted business courses, however the GWU program is unique in that the students will only interact with other athletes, have a different structure than a standard MBA program, and it all will eventually lead to a degree.

GWU Defends the STAR Program

The school defends the program, stating that all the admissions process will still remain rigorous and competitive. It will include the traditional transcript, essay and recommendations; although this year there was a 100 percent acceptance rate. This was because all the students enrolled were expressly invited into the program by the school. It also refutes the assertions that segregating the athletes into a separate program is preferential treatment. Sanjay Rupani, chief officer of strategy at GWU’s business school, allots the segregation to another reason, “Our students get to network with other students who bring very similar experiences and perspectives to the table.”

A New Kind of Athletic Academy

Regardless, as mentioned before, it seems the school is attempting to form a different kind of MBA program model. The structure seems to technically run more along the lines of online MBA programs than traditional ones. Students do not meet with other students for class, except for six times a year, and online coursework is also involved. Still, the program will last a full two years, and costs the same as the standard MBA program (95,000). However, since the current class includes Bredon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens, Dominique Dawes, former gymnast that won an Olympic gold medal in 1996, and Michelle Lau, who is a professional poker player; it is likely for most of them that the costs would not be an issue.

The program is still young, the first of its kind in the US, and only in its first year, so it is too early to know how successful it will be. However, if it is successful, it is likely there will be similar programs cropping up elsewhere come the near future.

Read more about the program here.

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