For Indiana Kelley & Major League Soccer, The Goal Is Helping Players Off The Soccer Pitch

Indiana Kelley is teaming up with the MLS Players Association to provide athletes with an opportunity to earn an MBA. The Kelley School will offer MLS players an entirely online education in a flexible format. MLS photo


Since the players’ first priority is their soccer schedule and performance on the field, the flexibility of IU Kelley’s online MBA is crucial. “The logistical and geographical challenges are real and prevent many of us the opportunity to participate in a full-time program,” says Milburn.

The program runs on a quarter system, which allows players to “chip away at their degree,” according to Ford, and fit it in around their athletic schedule. Plus, its online format means they don’t have to travel and they have up to five years to complete it.

While the program has a core curriculum, it’s offered each quarter. “This means that if they sit out at all due to playing demands, they won’t be behind for the rest of the year,” says Magjuka.

In the past, NFL players have completed their degrees in 10 or 11 quarters, whereas other students complete them in eight or nine. Magjuka presumes that MLS players will complete it in a similar timeframe. “We recognize the players’ needs for flexibility in terms of their academic quarters,” says Magjuka. “There will be busy times where players might not take any courses from us, so we’ve designed a plan of study that’s easily interrupted and then restarted.”

When it comes to Parker balancing his upcoming school schedule with soccer, he says he plans on taking two classes per quarter, which he’ll focus on after his morning training. “I’m in a good time of my life to get it started,” he explains. “I’ll be getting married this off-season, but I don’t have to worry about any kids for a little while. That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to start it now.”


Todd McMillon: ““It was great to see how other NFL players were as motivated each quarter.” Courtesy photo

When Glyn Milburn heard about the partnership between NFLPA and IU Kelley, he’d been retired from the NFL for more than a decade. Despite no longer being in the NFL, he still desired a program which offered flexibility as he built his post-football career. “Pro athletes often start post-athletic careers much later than their non-professional athlete counterparts,” says Milburn.

He chose to study at IU Kelley due to its online format and reputation for being one of the Top 25 graduate business schools. According to him, his MBA gave him broad exposure to several personal and professional development skills ranging from management, strategy and leadership to finance, information technology and law.

“It was great to see how other NFL players were as motivated each quarter and excited about learning and the material as other students,” he says.


Todd McMillon, a former cornerback for the Chicago Bears, studied alongside Milburn and also graduated in 2022. “It was fulfilling to go through the program knowing we both worked hard and became more confident and competent business professionals throughout the process,” says Milburn.

McMillon always wanted to get a graduate degree; both of his parents had master’s degrees, and he’d grown up striving for one, too. “It was always in the back of my mind that if I got the opportunity to go back to school, I would,” he shares.

McMillon describes the IU Kelley MBA as an “invaluable” experience. “My kids got to see me go back to school,” he says, proudly. “And they got to see that it’s never too late to go back to school.”

Aside from the fact that the school was partnered with the NFLPA, when researching different MBAs, like Milburn, the fact that IU Kelley’s MBA was one of the top online programs in the country helped him to make his choice. “For many people that play sports, they miss the development stage of being an entrepreneur and learning the skills that non-athletes learn,” says McMillon. “For us to be able to play ball and then attend school is an incredible opportunity.”


Ford says the MLSPA has begun doing outreach in order to encourage players to pursue an online degree. “Soon, we’ll start to see a big uptake in players reaching out and getting plugged in,” he says.

Magjuka says that they’re encouraging enrollment to happen naturally. “We’ll find out in a year or two if we’re going to have the same level of participation or not as our NFLPA partnership,” adds Magjuka.

“I have no doubt that the MLS players who join our program will provide diverse opinions and perspectives. It’s good for everyone, as it aids in learning.”


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