Pro Athletes Make Millions, Value Education as Well

Austin TyeContributor IJune 21, 2011

In May 2001, Vince Carter, the All-Star guard for the Toronto Raptors, made headlines and created some controversy, but not for anything he had done in association with his status as a basketball player. A millionaire many times over, as well as an established NBA icon, Carter was suiting up later that day for the seventh game of a playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers; however, there was business of another kind he had to take care of first. 

Carter had traveled by private jet to the University of North Carolina to experience a moment of pride that had nothing to do with sinking a jump shot. Instead, Carter was about to receive his college degree in African-American Studies. The ceremony meant enough to him that he was going to attend that first and then fly to Philadelphia for his playoff game. It incurred the wrath of some fans but was, as far as he was concerned, compulsory. 

"This is something I had to do for me, regardless of what other people say about it," he told CBC Sports, "because it's something I wanted to do, something I had to do." A prominent example among those professional athletes who went back to school after making millions, Carter completed his degree through correspondence courses, but if the option of online education had been available for him then, he may have taken advantage of it.

Athletes, no matter how accomplished or wealthy, can benefit from any form of online learning, whether it results in an online bachelor degree or some other "sheepskin." 

Education is particularly important for those who may not have a long shelf life in their athletic endeavors. For David Klingler, there was a time to get serious about academics and a chosen field after football. Klingler was a first-round draftee of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1992 after setting numerous passing records at the University of Houston, and he received a salary that was commensurate with his draft status. He already had a business administration degree, but after he finished his NFL career in 1997, he returned to school, this time to obtain a master's degree in theology, and continued to earn his Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies. 

As he told the Houston Chronicle in 2007, "One of the things athletes lose sight of or forget is that even if you are a professional athlete and in it for a long time, you're still going to have a giant chunk of your life to go after you're done playing."

There's food for thought in this statement, which is why the option of online education is so important.

In an atmosphere where preparing for the rigors of professional sports is a year-round business, and ancillary considerations also take up much of an athlete's time, the convenience of pursuing an administration degree of some kind through the avenue of online education, where students have an opportunity to operate largely on their own time, presents a viable alternative indeed for those who are serious about matriculating further.