June 02, 2009

NFL kicker completes MBA degree online

Posted: June 02, 2009

As a Dallas Cowboy, Billy Cundiff kicked a record seven field goals in one ”Monday Night Football” game in 2003. Today, his determination and drive have helped him to complete his MBA degree and land a venture capital job through the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He used the school’s highly ranked online MBA program even while attending NFL training camp.

“This is the best two-year investment I probably could have ever made in myself,” says Cundiff, who has spent five years in the National Football League. “The W. P. Carey MBA – Online Program gave me the flexibility to attend training camp with the Atlanta Falcons while still pursuing my degree. After being released by the team, the flexibility of the program allowed me to stay in shape, while also balancing family issues, such as my mother-in-law’s ovarian cancer treatments, my wife’s pregnancy and then my newborn daughter’s needs.”

Cundiff originally planned to be a high school history teacher until he was signed by the Dallas Cowboys after playing college football. After stints in Dallas, Tampa, Green Bay and New Orleans, he decided to use the NFL’s education benefits to go for a Master of Business Administration.

“I didn’t know where I was going to be next, so I needed to start thinking about what I was going to do post-football,” says Cundiff. “We had just bought a home in Phoenix, so I had heard a ton of good things about the W. P. Carey School of Business. I decided getting an MBA from Arizona State would be the right thing to do since it would help me with my eventual transition out of football. In the meantime, this MBA program allowed me to keep up my workout routine and continue to try out for teams.”

Cundiff enjoyed the team-oriented program offered through the W. P. Carey School of Business, which matches up groups of about five people, who can be from diverse fields and geographically distributed throughout the world. Cundiff was joined up with two engineers, a representative in logistics for the U.S. Air Force and a credit manager at a well-known, high-end resort.

“The program is all about access to education,” says Andrew Atzert, assistant dean of the W. P. Carey MBA – Online Program. “Only about 45 percent of the online students are from Arizona, and the rest come from across the country and abroad. In fact, about 10 percent of our students work on their degrees while serving in the military. The program is very rigorous, but structured for working professionals. As a result, 97 percent of our students are able to earn their degree in two years.”

Cundiff says, “It didn’t matter where I was, as long as I had access to the Internet and attended as many group meetings as possible. I got the same education as everybody else.”

Cundiff took his first MBA classes while attending training camp after signing with the Atlanta Falcons. He also spent an offseason with the Kansas City Chiefs while still working on his degree.

“Believe it or not, my online MBA team was a lot more functional than some of my NFL teams,” says Cundiff. “The online program also really helps you work on your communications and interpersonal skills, since you’re not dealing with people on a face-to-face basis.”

The special career management center dedicated solely to the W. P. Carey School of Business’ online MBA students also helped Cundiff make a transition to the work world. He was able to participate in Webinars during which he and classmates could remotely interact with the career center’s associate director, John McCrudden. McCrudden provided advice on everything from job interview skills to negotiating contracts. Cundiff also joined a student entrepreneur network and landed a three-month internship that has led to a full-time job with a venture capital firm in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“This online MBA program was the real deal, not a watered-down MBA program,” says Cundiff. “It taught me the language of business so I could bridge my skills between the competitive environments of the football field and the business world.”

For more information about the online program, go to wpcarey.asu.edu/mba/online.

Debbie Freeman, Debbie.Freeman@asu.edu
(480) 965-9271
Communications Manager, W. P. Carey School of Business