Sports Scholarships

A Baller and a Scholar

A Baller and a Scholar

The dilemma of leaving school without meaningful qualifications to pursue a professional sports career has troubled young athletes in the UK for many years. In particular, professional football teams offer a pathway into a footballing career before the completion of high school or a university degree.

The USA represents an opportunity for aspiring athletes to continue to excel in their sport while attending university to pursue higher education. The draft system across the major professional sports leagues then allows teams to select the top players to join their team. If the opportunity does not present itself to compete professionally, students can use their education to pursue a career outside of their sport.

A NBA (National Basketball Association) rule means draft prospects must be at least one year removed from high school and at least 19 to be drafted. The rule forced NBA teams to look to college players, but also encouraged some drafted players to finish what they started educationally. In 2009, it was reported that 45 NBA players, or 10% of the league, had taken college classes to actively pursue their degree that they had once started.

Recently marked a special occasion for one of those players, Los Angeles Lakers guard Jodie Meeks, who returned to the University of Kentucky to collect his diploma for his degree in Business Marketing. Meeks left Kentucky early, following his 3rd year, to compete in the NBA but continued to take classes during the off-season.

Other famous athletes who returned to college to get their degree are:

  •  Michael Jordan- NBA- University of North Carolina
  • Shaquille O’Neal- NBA- Louisiana State University
  • Chris Paul- NBA- Wake Forest
  • Ben Roethilsberger- NFL- Miami Univeristy (Ohio)
  • Troy Polamalu- NFL- University of Southern California

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