UGA’s ‘career symposium’ to prepare Bulldogs for life after football

GREENSBORO — According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, by the time NFL players have been retired for two years, 78 percent are either bankrupt or under significant financial stress. Sixty percent of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement, according to the same report.

Georgia is doing something to try to steer its football players away from a similar fate.

UGA executive associate athletic director Carla Williams, who counts student-athlete services and life skills among her many responsibilities, told the Athletic Association’s board of directors Thursday about a symposium that has been organized for the Bulldogs’ football players this summer. Attendance for the “2014 Career Management Symposium” is mandatory for all 125 players, and the once-a-week sessions will be conducted over a five-week period beginning on June 18.

The seminars will be conducted by former Georgia and NFL players and the subject matter is designed to be especially useful for players that may eventually become sports professional.

“It will have heavy emphasis on financial literacy and is similar to the NFL’s rookie symposium,” Williams told the board at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee.

Matt Stinchcomb, David Greene and Jeremy Lomax will teach a class called “Banking, Credit and Self Awareness.” D.J. Shockley and Tra Battle will conduct a session on “Budgeting, Saving and Investing.” Jon Stinchcomb and his wife Ali will team up with Robert Edwards and his wife Tracy will lead a seminar called “Sudden Wealth Syndrome and Career Management Principles.” NFL wide receiver Mohamed wraps up the symposium on July 24 with a class on “Value Based Decision Making.” The symposium kicks off with an initial class called “Business Etiquette: Clothing and Dining.”

Georgia thinks it’s information its players can really use.

“I think it’s great,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said. “We can talk to certain populations about creating a resume, like we do in PAWS, our first-year program, and we talke about preparing for the future and networking and all these things. But a lot of it doesn’t hit home because everybody thinks they’re going into pro sports. They all think they’re going to make it in the NFL. ‘I don’t need to worry about that right now.’ …

“The light usually doesn’t come on until they’re out of football. So we’re just trying to force it. They may not want to listen to it right now, but we’re trying to force it so they can at least say we did everything we could to educate and prepare them for life after football. … They’re things they need to hear whether they want to or not.”

Since attendance is mandatory, the symposium will count against the new eight hours per week allowance the NCAA has approved for summer training for football.

Georgia coach Mark Richt added another program this past March designed to help the Bulldogs adapt to life after football. Richt invited all the players that played for him at Georgia since he became head coach in 2001 back to Athens for the “Paul Oliver Networking Weekend.” The idea of the event was for the former players “to reconnect with their friends and Bulldog family” while also meeting with UGA personnel to discuss their current career track and to undergo a “graduation audit” if they had not yet met their degree requirements.

The program was named after Oliver, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound last year, not long after retiring from professional football.

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