9 ex-NBA players register for classes at FAMU’s School of Business and Industry

nbrpa-logoYou might want to keep an eye out for some extremely tall, gray-haired men on Florida A&M’s campus the first weekend in December. Some of them might look familiar to fans of professional basketball.

These gentlemen – at least nine have registered – will be members of the inaugural class in a new program for retired pro basketball players being offered at FAMU’s School of Business and Industry, Tallahassee.com reported.

Life After Retirement: Growing Successful Business Ventures Certificate Program is the brainchild of SBI Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud. The boot-camp style curriculum rolls out over four weekends and culminates with each participant presenting a researched business plan that he has developed with staff at FAMU’s Small Business Center.

“To my understanding, this is the first of its kind for retired players,” Friday-Stroud said. “I’m excited about it. It has a chance to bring great exposure to the university.”

The program is affiliated with the National Basketball Retirement Players Association (NBRPA), an organization that represents former players from multiple professional leagues including the WNBA and Globetrotters.

George Tinsley, who played for several years in the defunct American Basketball Association and was NBRPA board president last year, spoke at SBI during the spring semester about the challenges pro athletes grapple with following their playing careers.

That was when Friday-Stroud floated the idea of a specific certificate program. She made a formal presentation in September at NBRPA’s annual convention in Port St. Lucie.

“They were receptive and they’ve taken on a lot of the marketing for the program,” Friday-Stroud said.

Wayne “Tree” Rollins has signed up for the class. The 7-foot-1 Rollins is best known for his many years at center in the 1980s with the Atlanta Hawks, but to this day he wishes he had left Clemson with a degree after four years at the university.

“The best guesstimate is that 30 percent or less of the retired players have their degree,” Rollins, president of the NBRPA chapter in Orlando, said. “This makes our educational pursuits even more important. We see this program at Florida A&M as a priority-type initiative for us.”

Since retiring in 1997, Rollins has coached in various professional leagues. He said he welcomes more training to start his own business.

NBRPA President and CEO Arnie Fielkow said the organization, with about 625 paid members, welcomes programs like the one FAMU is rolling out next month. Since FAMU announced its business certificate program, two more institutions have presented similar proposals, he said.

“Florida A&M is going to be the launching pad for what I see as a very important program for our association. This is a great model for future programs for other areas outside the business world,” he said.

Larry Robinson, FAMU’s interim president, commended Friday-Stroud for identifying a need and creating a program to meet it. That it might bring national attention to the university is a plus, he added.

“We hear some of the stories about professional athletes who don’t properly plan for their financial well-being beyond the time they’re in the spotlight,” Robinson said. “This will help young and old professional basketball players, and it meets a critical need.”


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