2013 Study: Financial Health of Athletes in Their Post-Athletic Careers

Benjamin J. BlockCorrespondent IIJanuary 24, 2013

Mike Tyson could have avoided his financial struggles following the end of his boxing career if he had been wise.
Mike Tyson could have avoided his financial struggles following the end of his boxing career if he had been wise.Chris McGrath/Getty Images

An upscale midtown restaurant in New York City engulfed by the stench of success and nestled among prominent banks and law firms served as an appropriate environment Thursday for Constellation Wealth Advisors LLC and the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU-SCPS) to hold their press conference on a new athlete study.

Constellation conceptualized the idea for this research project after working with countless athletes who have built solid foundations for success in their retirement years.

As academic chair of the NYU-SCPS Tisch Center, Robert Boland anticipates that the findings from their research will resonate with athletes as they approach their transition out of sports. 

"We are very pleased to be able to work with Constellation Wealth Advisors LLC," said Robert Boland, academic chair of the NYU-SCPS Tisch Center. "All too often, the media dwells upon the failures of athletes after their professional careers have ended, but there are numerous examples of those who have excelled. We expect that this research will help to define what is needed to ensure post-career success for future generations of athletes."

In an effort to further rationalize the research study that they are about to embark on, Boland added "the one race you can't outrun, is the race of time."

The impending findings will go far beyond Billy Corben's ESPN Films 30 for 30: Broke, and gauge the overall financial health and well-being of athletes in their post-professional athletic careers.

Also involved in today's press conference was former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs Steve Bono, who is now a principal with Constellation.

Bono exemplifies Constellation's credo of successfully identifying investment practices and philanthropic involvement following retirement, and he is invested in this project of advising modern day athletes—including his son Christoph Bono, quarterback at UCLA.  

Also on the dais was co-CEO of Constellation, Paul Tramontano, and he expressed his optimism for the project they are undertaking.

We think that this type of study will help any athlete, and many individuals, to gain a better understanding of what it takes to be successful on a multitude of fronts once they have retired. 

While Boland, Bono and Tramontano were all as polished and engaging as a politician on the road looking for votes, it's yet to be seen if this partnership and research study will change the culture of athletes going broke after retirement. 

It's astonishing how many athletes routinely mismanage their finances during their athletic career and find themselves in peril once the big contracts go away and real life stares them down. 

Mike Tyson will forever serve as the "don't let it happen to you" athlete.  

Tyson's blatant ignorance during his boxing career to prepare and deal with the volatile uncertainty of financial environments later in life is a sad tale.  

Emcee of the press conference, group project leader and former head of HBO Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment Seth Abraham shared a funny but telling personal story involving Tyson.

Back in Iron Mike's heyday, Abraham received a call from a BMW dealership in Beverly Hills asking him what kind of interior leather he would like in his new car—a $90,000 car, mind you.

Abraham, of course, responded—What new car?

As if it were no big deal, the dealership answered—The one that Mike Tyson just bought for you.

Abraham told the dealership that he'd have to call them back.He eventually tracked down Tyson on the phone and asked him what the heck he was thinking.

Tyson said he didn't see the extravagant nature in what he had done and that it was just one of 28 BMWs he had purchased for people around him. 

Abraham politely declined the car and told the champ that if he really wanted to give a gift, a book would suffice.

Tyson adhered to Abraham's request and bought him Black Dynamite. Abraham proudly claimed that he still has the book today.

Contrary to Tyson, there are athletes like George Foreman who thought ahead.

In Kingston, Jamaica, nearly 40 years ago to the day, George Foreman was on top of the sports world when he knocked out Joe Frazier to become the new World Heavyweight Champion—many sound investments later, he is financially stable today.

If this research study can pinpoint and educate athletes on what leads to financial struggles, as Constellation and NYU-SCPS suggest it will, there should be a lot fewer sob stories in the future.

Initial findings of the study are expected to be released later in 2013.