Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Major League Baseball: A study of continuing education and career development programs

Here's a copy of my final Senior Research project.  Submitted and presented December 10, 2010


Chapter I
Introduction
Major League Baseball players graduate college at a significantly lower rate than their counterparts in the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). This trend can be contributed to several factors: the number of players who sign their first professional contract before they complete four years of college, the difficulty that NCAA Division I athletes have completing their degree in four years, and the lack of continuing education and career development programs offered by Major League Baseball to minor and major league players.
According to a 2009 report by the Wall Street Journal, Major League Baseball had only 26 college graduates on opening-day Major League rosters. (Turbow, 2009) The Oakland A’s led all Major League baseball clubs with a total of three graduates. The number of graduates in Major League Baseball is significantly lower than their colleagues in the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. Half of all NFL football players have four-year degrees and twenty-one percent of NBA players have a four-year degree. (Abrams, 2009) Those figures account to approximately 800 NFL and 90 NBA college graduates.
Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the reasons why Major League Baseball trails the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) in regards to assisting their current and former players obtain a four-year college degree. This study will examine the results of a survey administered to current and former minor league baseball regarding their current educational levels, their baseball career expectations, their post-baseball career expectations, and their current efforts to finish their degree while still playing professional baseball.
Research Question
RQ 1. How does Major League Baseball compare in regards to the NFL and NBA in offering career development and continuing education programs to current and former players?
RQ 2. How important do minor league baseball prospects think it is to complete their four-year degree during or immediately after their playing career?
RQ 3. How likely are current minor league baseball players to utilize career development and continuing education services offered by MLB?
Need for the Study
According to a 2009 report conducted by the Wall Street Journal, Major League Baseball had only 26 college graduates on opening day major league rosters at the time the study was conducted. (Turbow, 2009) This figures varies greatly from the current graduation rates of active players in the NFL and NBA. It is clear that Major League Baseball has not been as successful as the NFL and NBA in regards to assisting current and former players obtain a four-year degree. Half of all NFL football players have four-year degrees and twenty-one percent of NBA players have a four-year degree. (Abrams, 2009) According to numerous reports and events, Major League baseball players and professional athletes in general are likely to go bankrupt or experience financial and personal difficulties in the years following their playing careers.  Obtaining a four-year degree and utilitzing career development programs would assist players in a successful transition to a career after sport.
Delimitations of the Study
The following are delimitations of the study:
1.      This study contains only career development and continuing education programs of Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Basketball Association. I excluded the data from the country’s other major professional sports league, the National Hockey League, because a great majority of the active players in the league did not attend high school or college in the United States. In fact, only 19.9 percent of players in the NHL are American-born. (Mirtle, 2008)
2.      The number of foreign born players in Major League Baseball has been increasing. In 2010, of the 883 players on Opening Day rosters and disabled lists to start the 2010 season, 231 players or 27.7 percent of MLB players were born outside of the United States. (Opening day rosters, 2009) In 1990, that figure was at 13 percent. (Opening day rosters, 2009) In 2010, 48 percent of the players on minor league opening days rosters were foreign born. (Nightengale, 2009) The number of foreign born players who did not have an opportunity to play college baseball prior to signing their first professional contract alter the actual graduation rates of current Major League Baseball players.
Limitations of the Study
The following are limitations of the study:
1.      This study contains limitations in regards to research previously conducted on this subject. Scholarly research conducted on the subject of the four professional American sports leagues and the career development and continuing education programs they offer their current and former players is limited. Most research on this subject was obtained from the official websites of MLB, NFL, NBA, and the NHL and from information gathered from various print journalists across the United States.
2.      The researcher surveyed the participants in the 2010 Arizona Fall League. This league is considered to showcase the top talents and prospects in minor league baseball. The hundreds of “non-prospects” that are currently in minor league baseball were not included in this study. A non-prospect player is someone the organization believes has no legitimate chance of reaching the major leagues. These players are in minor league systems to complete rosters for every level and their main purpose is to allow the organization’s top prospects to obtain at-bats and innings on their march to the big leagues.
3.      The researcher did not administer the survey himself. The survey was administered by a trusted third-party whom oversaw the distribution of surveys to Arizona Fall League players. This person, the clubhouse manager for the Arizona Fall League's Scottsdale Scorpions, has assisted students and researchers in studies conducted in the league various times in the last couple of years.
Basic Assumptions
This study contains the following basis assumptions:
1.      The researcher assumes that participants in the survey will answer all questions honestly and provide honest feedback.
2.      The researcher assumes that all information obtained in online print and media sources are correct and their statistical information is accurate.

Chapter II
Review of Literature
Professional sports organizations provide different levels of services to their athletes regarding career development and continuing education services. In this section I will review the career development and continuing education services provided by the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Football League. I will also examine graduation success rates (GSR) at NCAA Division I institutions and review several online print media articles pertaining to professional athletes and career development and continuing education opportunities.
National Hockey League
The NHL Alumni Association partners with the Professional Athlete Transition Institute (PATI) to develop and implement programs to assist with career development and transition services for all former and current NHL athletes.  The PATI is implemented by Quinnipiac University and is located in Hamden, Connecticut. The PATI is dedicated to the development of niche services designed to meet the career development, career transition, education and research needs of elite athletes and the organizations that serve them. (“Professional athlete training, 2010”)  The PATI offers a variety of customized services for former NHL athletes. These services are designed to enhance the educational, business, skill development, and personal goals of current and former NHL members.
The PATI offers the following specialized services to all current and former NHL players: entrepreneurial services, educational services, career exploration and transition, one-on-one business and life coaching, business skills development, and work study programs. 
The PATI recognizes that all professional athletes possess a variety of unique competencies and skills related to teamwork, leadership, perseverance, and discipline that are unique to the  new career seeking athlete.  They also understand that athletes lack first-hand corporate work experience.  The PATI strategically partners with several corporations to develop a dynamic learning community, with customized, flexible job-shadow, information meeting, mentor and Internship guidelines and programs. (“Professional athlete training”, 2009)
National Football League (NFL)
  Since 1991, the NFL Player Development Department has had over 9,000 players and their significant others take advantage of the programs the department offer. (National football league player, 2009)  The Player Development department is divided into four main areas:  continuing education, financial education, career development, and player assistance services.   
NF Continuing Education
  The NFL Continuing Education Department is designed to assist current players complete their undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies.  The NFL Continuing Education Department works with individual players and teams to coordinate studies in their current NFL city, at their original institutions, and at institutions nearest the players off-season home.  The NFL offers a tuition reimbursement program that will reimburse players up to 15,000 dollars a year to encourage them to return to school and complete their degree. (“National football league, 2009”)  The NFL requires that players in this program maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average to qualify for reimbursement.
Sixteen active players earned their degree in 2009 through the NFL Continuing Education Program. (“National football league, 2009”)
NFL Career Development
The mission of the NFL Career Development Program is:
1.      Provide players with professional development training (brand assessment, presentation skills training, business etiquette resume writing, and interview skills) to facilitate their growth as public figures and their transition out of professional football and into a desired second career.
2.       Provide internships, apprenticeships, informational interviews, shadowing, and structured learning opportunities in all fields of interest to players in an effort to assist them in becoming acquainted with the requirements of the job market as they exist outside of professional football.
3.      Utilize existing and create new partnerships to establish opportunities for players. (National football league, 2009”)
            The NFL states that providing these opportunities for current players will enable them to discover specific causes that they can become involved within their home club communities.  The NFL hopes that by providing these opportunities to their players it will encourage them to become positive, productive citizens in their respective home cities.
The NFL has partnered with several corporations to offer off-season internship opportunities. Merrill Lynch Financial Services and Bank of America are two of the major corporate sponsors that provide off-season internship opportunities. The internship opportunities allow players to develop job skills and develop professional relationships that will assist players after their playing careers are over.
NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program
This program, offered in conjunction with the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA), gives opportunities for players to learn how to properly evaluate business opportunities. This program is offered with the assistance of some of the top business schools in the country. Harvard University and Wharton School of Business participate in this program. Topics covered at these workshops include: personal investments, business plan review, operations and cash-flow management, and proper recruiting and hiring practices. Admittance to this program is based on the players’ playing experience in the league and interest in business opportunities once their careers are over.
National Basketball Association
All information on the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) player transitioning and career development programs are found on the National Basketball Association Players’ Association (NBAPA) website.
The NBA’s Career Development Department is a joint effort between the NBA and the National Basketball Association Players’ association. Their main goal is to provide quality services and resources to help active players achieve their goals both on and off the court. The program offers individualized career development plans for each player that requests their assistance. These programs include self-assessment, career exploration, education options, networking, internships, and transitioning preparation. (Post game play: a plan for life, 2010)
National Basketball Association Development League
The National Basketball Association’s Developmental League (D-League) offers a program that provides internship opportunities and career development programs for the league’s players. The NBA D-League is a lower-level subsidiary of the NBA whose goal is to develop and prepare players for a career in the National Basketball Association. The NBA loans out players to D-League franchises and can recall players to join their respective NBA franchise at any point during the season. The D-League is effectively the NBA’s minor league system. Most D-League players will never play in the NBA.
 The league offers online learning opportunities for players and helps them obtain valuable internships that can help them gain employment once their playing days are complete. The program offers players workshops on resume preparation, career assessment, and interviewing skills.
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, and the Major League Baseball Alumni Association make no significant mention on their websites of programs relating to career transitioning or career development for current and former players.
Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program has been held annually since 1991 and teams send three major-league ready prospects to the program to prepare them for life in the major leagues. The program invites former major league players, baseball executives, financial experts, experts on performance-enhancing drugs, and convicted criminals to provide the young players insight into the demands, temptations, and expectations that one experiences during life in the major leagues. The program does not offer any seminars or programs regarding preparing for life after their baseball careers are over.
Trends in Graduation Success Rates and Federal Graduation Rates at NCAA Division I Institutions.
The NCAA published a report titled Trends in Graduation Success Rates and Federal Graduation Rates at NCAA Division I institutions on October 27, 2010. This report shows that student-athletes continue to graduate at a higher percentage than they did five years ago. The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for student-athletes who enrolled in college in 2003 is 79 percent, matching last year's percentage but showing an overall improvement of three percent compared to those who enrolled in college five years earlier in 1998 (“Grad rates hit, 2010”). The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) is compiled by measuring the percentage of students who graduate within six years of their initial enrollment in school (“Grad rates hit, 2010”).
 Division I baseball players graduate at a significantly lower percentage than the average of 79 percent for all student-athletes. Only Men's Basketball and Football graduate a lower percentage of their student-athletes.   The rate for baseball was 70 percent.  Men’s Basketball and Football were 66 and 69 percent respectively.
The GSR for baseball players peaked in 2001 at 71.7 percent and was at its' lowest level of 63.9 perent in 1999.
The NCAA also examined Federal Graduation Rates for Division I student-athletes between the periods of 1999-2002 and 2000-2003. The Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) differs from the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) in that it is compiled by the United States Department of Education and it measures the percentage of student-athletes who graduate within six years from the institution they originally enrolled (What is graduation success rate, 2010). It penalizes schools for athletes who transfer to other schools during their playing careers.
The NCAA created the Graduation Success Rate to take into account two factors the Department of Education's Federal Graduation Rate did not.
1.      When student-athletes transfer from an institution before graduating and is in good academic standing (perhaps to transfer to another institution for more playing time, different major, or to go pro; and

2.      Those student-athletes who transfer to an institution (e.g. from a community college or another 4-year college) and earn a degree.
Fernas, Rob. (2003, June 2003). Graduation rates low for baseball teams . Los Angeles
In this 2003 article, Fernas examines the graduation rates of the sixteen NCAA Division I baseball teams that advanced to that year’s Super Regional Tournament. Eleven of the sixteen teams that year graduated less than fifty percent of their players. (Fernas, 2003) The percentage was compiled by looking at the number of players who began college in the 1995-1996 school year and eventually graduated from the same institution within six years. Long Beach State graduated only  five percent of their players while Stanford graduated the highest percentage of players at 79 percent. Long Beach State Athletic Director Bill Shumard defended his program. “I give it (the study) very little credence. It’s such a minimal representation of our entire student-athlete population that it doesn’t reflect the success that we’re having.” Cal State Fullerton Head Baseball Coach George Horton said baseball deals with different circumstance than most college sports, thus making it more difficult to perform in such academic surveys. (Fernas, 2009) Horton states that the length and time commitment of the baseball season, the participation in summer leagues and the major league draft are key factors in limiting the percentage of college players who earn their degree in six years.
Representatives from these programs that graduate a low percentage of players say the results of this study is misleading because the study does not take into account players who earn their degrees after transferring to other schools, and those who take longer than six years to graduate college. Horton states that successful programs are penalized when it comes to studies that this. “I’m not making an alibi, but it is really difficult to look good in an academic census if you are a successful baseball program.” The study found that 183 of the 256 Division I baseball programs graduated fewer players than the overall general student graduation rate of 59%. (Fernas, 2003)
Turbow, Jason. (2009, June 16). Who has the brainiest team in baseball. Wall Street Journal, Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124511558996917441.html
In this article, the author examines the reasons for the small amount of college graduates that were on Major League Baseball rosters in 2009 . Turbow included every major league manager and every major league player who had made at least one appearance with a major league team between opening day 2009 and June 1, 2009. Turbow discovered that while many managers and players had at one time attended a four-year institution, only 26 players in all of Major League Baseball have obtained a four-year degree. (Turbow, 2009) The Oakland A’s led all MLB teams with three graduates.
The author completed his own study where players who obtained their four year degrees received twice as many points as players who only attended college and did not graduate. Turbow did not award any points to players who did not attend a college or university. The author also gave more points to players who were starters on their respective teams. Results showed that Oakland Athletics, who generally draft college players led the list.  The Atlanta Braves, whose draft philosophy is to generally draft high school players, are at the bottom of the list.  Results are shown in the Appendix section.
Alhough the author does not compare his results to the other major professional sports leagues in the United State, this article points out the lack of college graduates on Major League Baseball rosters.
Torre, Pablo. (2009, March 23). How (and why) athletes go broke. Sports Illustrated, Retrieved from http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1153364/index.htm
In this article, Pablo S. Torre provides the reader with a comprehensive look into the reasons many professional athlete struggle financially after retirement from professional sport. Torre documents the struggles of several athletes from all professional sports leagues that have lost everything financially after earning millions of dollars during their playing careers. Although salaries have steadily increased over the last three decades, Torre reports that by the time they have been retired for two years, 78 percent of former National Football League players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce and and estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement.(Torre, 2008)
The article identifies four common factors that contribute to the financial struggles of professional athletes. These are identified as the lure of the intangible, misplaced trust, family matters, and great expectations. (Torre, 2008)  Torre goes on to describe these reasons and provide examples of situations where these factors played a role in the financial demise of former professional athletes
Shea, John. (2004, June 6). Degree of difficulty-draft system makes college graduates rare in major league baseball. San Francisco Chronicle, Retrieved from http://articles.sfgate.com/2004-06-06/sports/17431201_1_four-year-degrees-college-los-angeles-eric-karros
Shea examines the reasons college graduates are rare in Major League Baseball. In 2004 there were only 42 college graduates on 25-man active rosters.  In, 2009 that number had fallen to 26 total graduates.  In comparison, the National Football League had over 440 graduates in 2004 and the Carolina Panthers alone had more college graduates (43) than the entire total of Major League Baseball players. Shea identifies the current Major League Baseball draft system as a major reason there are significantly fewer college graduates on their active rosters. The Major League baseball draft allows high school and certain freshman and sophomore college players to be eligible for the draft. Players at four-year colleges and universities are eligible to be drafted after their junior year of college. This causes the majority of professional baseball players to sign their first professional contract before the completion of their fourth year of college.
Abrams, Jonathan. (2009, October 5). Nba players make their way back to college. New York Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/sports/basketball/06nba.html
In 2009, the National Basketball Association began tracking the number of current players who returned to the classroom in the offseason. That year 45 players, or approximately 10 percent of the league returned to the class. (Abrams, 2009) Debbie Rothstein Murman, the director for career development programs for the NBA is quoted in the article about the reasons a high percentage of NBA players return to the classroom in the offseason. “It’s not necessarily about needing to work from a financial standpoint, but it’s not the perspective we take with them. Basketball is one of their passions, but they all have others. What do they need to equip themselves with their next passion when they finish basketball? Where are the going to make their next marks?” (Abrams, 2009)
The article states that approximately 21 percent of current NBA players have undergraduate degrees. (Shea, 2009) At the National Basketball Association Player’s Association camp for top high school prospects the players are encouraged to sign contracts promising that they will continue their education should they ever reach the pros before graduating college. According to Rothstein Murman, the contract itself is largely symbolic but some player have taken it seriously and promised to return to school.
Chapter 3
Methods
The researcher collected data from twenty-six professional baseball players in the Arizona Fall League.  A total of seventy-five surveys were mailed out
The purpose of this study was to collect information from professional baseball players regarding:
1.      Their current level of professional baseball and what round they were drafted in.
2.      Their current education level
3.      Their expectations for their baseball career.
4.      Their attitudes towards the importance of obtaining a four-year degree
5.      The assistance they have received and would like to receive from Major League Baseball regarding career development and continuing education programs and services.
This chapter will contain the results and analysis of the survey administered to professional minor league baseball players from the Arizona Fall League. 
Participants
Participants in the 2010 Arizona Fall League were chosen for this study.  The researcher chose to survey professional baseball players in the Arizona Fall League for the following reasons:
1.      The researcher chose the Arizona Fall League because of the convenience  of data collection.  The Arizona Fall League championship season is played amongst six teams located in the Phoenix metropolitan area.  Each of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs send six players to the Arizona Fall League.  Each of the six teams contains players from five different Major League Baseball clubs.  The researcher contracted with the home clubhouse manager of the Scottsdale Scorpions to administer the survey.
2.       The Arizona Fall League consistently prepares top minor league prospects to play in the major leagues.  In 2010, 56% of the players on the eight clubs that participated in post-season play were alumni of the Arizona Fall League.  In 2008 and 2009 respectively, 56 and 49 percent of postseason rosters were comprised of Arizona Fall League alumni. (Mayo, 2010)  Past Arizona Fall League alumni include current David Wright, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Buster Posey, Derek Jeter, and numerous current and former major league players.  Since its’ inception in 1992, the Arizona Fall League has had over 1,200 alumni play in a Major League Baseball game. 
3.      The Arizona Fall League was the only professional baseball league playing a regular season during the months of October and November, the time in which this study was conducted.
Data Collection Procedures
1.      IRB approval was applied for and received from Stetson University
2.      A 20 question item questionnaire  was developed by the researcher with the goal of collecting information from professional baseball players regarding their current education levels, their baseball and post-baseball career expectations, and their opinions on the programs and services offered by Major League Baseball in regards to continuing education and career development.
3.      The final survey consisted of asking the player to write in their name, organization, year drafted, and college or high school attended.  The participants were subsequently asked to answer 18 multiple choice questions and two check all that apply questions. 
4.      The researcher mailed 75 surveys to the clubhouse manager of the Scottsdale Scorpions.  The Scorpions are a team in the Arizona Fall League that plays their home games in Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona
5.      Participants in the survey chose to do so voluntarily. Surveys were placed on tables in the players’ locker room. They were not coerced or encouraged to participate.
6.      The participants signed a voluntary consent form and were made aware that their names would be withheld from the final survey.
7.      Upon completion of the season, the clubhouse manager mailed the surveys back to the researcher.  The data was entered by the researcher into Google Form format.  The data was manually entered and double-checked for accuracy. 
8.      The researcher independently gathered age, race, geographical, and demographic information from the participants in the survey.   The researcher gathered this information matching the name on the survey to biographical information obtained from MLB.com.    
Researcher as an Instrument
            The researcher participated in Division I baseball at Stetson University from 1995-1997 and played professionally for eleven seasons with numerous Major League Baseball organizations.  The researcher retired from professional baseball in 2008 without ever obtaining his four-year degree. 
Chapter IV
Results
            Twenty-six (n=26) professional baseball players in the Arizona Fall League responded to  and answered the questions in the survey.  Twenty-four current professional ballplayers and two coaches signed consent forms and returned their surveys to the researcher.  In this section, the responses of the twenty-four current players were analyzed. 
RQ 1. How does Major League Baseball compare in regards to the NFL and NBA in offering career development and continuing education programs to current and former players?
According to the examination of online and print media sources regarding the current programs and services offered by Major League Baseball in regards to career development and continuing education programs, it is clear the Major League Baseball trails the National Football League and National Basketball Association in this area.  Major League Baseball has not implemented programs in this area whereas the National Football League and National Basketball Association has increased their services in these areas to their players in recent years.  The National Basketball Association and the National Football League have hired full-time directors to oversee their continuing education and career development programs whereas Major League Baseball does not have a program set up or a director hired to oversee these programs. 
The National Football League and National Basketball Association have also implemented programs to assist players in bearing the costs of returning to school.  The National Football League provides a tuition reimbursement programs of up to fifteen thousand dollars a year to players who maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average. (National Football League, 2009)  The National Basketball Association and the NBA Developmental League partners with the online University of Phoenix to provide educational opportunities to current players (Post-game play, a plan for life, 2010)  Major League Baseball has not yet implemented any programs similar to those offered by the National Football League and National Basketball Association. 
RQ 2:  How important do minor league baseball prospects think it is to complete their four-year degree during or immediately after their playing career?
            Minor league baseball prospects state that it is important to obtain a four-year degree at some point in their life.  Twenty-one participants answered this question and only one respondent stated that receiving a four-year degree was not important to them.  However,  players differed in their opinions regarding the importance of receiving a degree before their playing career is over.  Twenty-three respondents answered the question.  Eleven participants were unsure of the importance of receiving a four-year degree during their playing career,  six thought is was important, and seven respondents stated that it was not important to receive a four-year degree during their playing. 
Do you think it is important to obtain four-year degree?
Importance of getting degree before playing career is over?
RQ 3. How likely are current minor league baseball players to utilize career development and continuing education services offered by MLB?
            Participants in this survey demonstrated a strong interest in utilizing specific career development or continuing education services if offered by Major League Baseball.  The respondents stated a strong interest in utilizing tuition reimbursement programs, flexible class scheduling, online course opportunities, and off-season internship and employment opportunities.  They showed little interest in career development seminars, resume building seminars, in-season tutoring and administrative help, and Myers-Briggs profile testing.
Enrollment assistance

12
55%
Tuition reimbursement

16
73%
Online course opportunities

13
59%
In-season tutoring and administrative help

4
18%
Flexible class scheduling

16
73%
Career development seminars

3
14%
Off-season internship/employment opportunities

13
59%
Resume building seminars

3
14%
Financial Management Seminars

6
27%
Myers-Briggs profile testing

3
14%

Demographic Information
            The average age of each participant is twenty-three ( 23.16667)  years old.  The youngest participant was twenty (n=1) and the oldest participants were twenty-six (n=2).  The average round the players’ were drafted was the 11thround. (11.25)  There were a total of four players (n=4) drafted in the first round.  Three players were drafted after the 30th round with the lowest drafted player being drafted in the 41st round. Eighteen (n=18) of the twenty-six players were selected in the first ten rounds.   Fifteen players (58 percent) were either drafted in 2007 or 2008.  Nine of the participants are currently on the 40-man roster for their respective organization. 
Round Drafted
Education
            Nineteen of the twenty-six players surveyed signed their first professional contract after attending a four-year university.  One participant signed out of junior-college and five players signed directly out of  high school.  Although 19 of the 26 players signed out of a four-year university only one player had already obtained their four-year degree.  Eighteen players had only received a high-school diploma and four players received their Associate of Arts or Sciences Degree.  Four players had yet to take a class at the university level.  Eleven players had completed 2 to 3 years of college coursework and eight players have two semesters or less left to complete college.  Four players (15%) had returned to college during their professional baseball career to take classes.  Three of those players returned to school in the fall semester and one player took classes online.
School  Signed out of

Highest Level of Education Completed


How Much College Completed


Baseball Career Expectations
            Twenty-two of the twenty-five respondents stated that they expected to play at least 6 to 8 years at the major league level.  According to a study by the University of Colorado-Boulder, the average length of a major league career is 5.6 years. (Average major league career, 2007)  One in five position players will only play one year in the major leagues and for each year you play in the major leagues your chances of playing the following season decrease by 11 percent. (Average major league career, 2007)  Only three respondents stated their goal was to play up to 5 years at the major league level. 
            The respondents were asked to rate what kind of player they thought they would become at the major league level.  Twenty-three percent of the players were satisfied with being a platoon player, bench player, or middle reliever.  Twenty-seven percent strive to be an everyday player at the big league level, twenty-six percent believe they will reach all-star status, and nineteen percent believe they will one day put together a good enough career to be considered for the hall of fame.  Without providing statistical information to back it up, the researcher states that they chances are very slim that any of these players will eventually put together a hall of fame caliber career. 
Expectations for playing career

What kind of player wiill you be at the big league level?

Bench player or middle reliever

2
8%
Platoon player or situational reliever

4
15%
Everyday player, starting pitcher, or closer

7
27%
All-star caliber player

6
23%
Hall of Fame caliber player

5
19%





Major League Baseball and Educational Assistance
            Eighty-five percent of the respondents received financial assistance or a college scholarship plan from the organization that originally drafted them.  Although twenty-two of the respondents received such aid only four players had chosen to enroll and take at least one class during their playing career.  Sixty-nine percent of the respondents stated that they had received some sort of career development or continuing education services from their current organizations. 
            The participants in the study demonstrated an interest in participating in various continuing education and career development programs.   In regards to continuing education services, 73 percent stated they are interested in flexible class scheduling and tuition reimbursement programs.  Over fifty percent stated that they would be interested in enrollment assistance and online course opportunities.  Fifty-nine percent stated that they would be interested in off-season internship and employment opportunities.  They were generally uninterested in resume building workshops, Myers-Brigg profile testing, and career development seminars. 

            Forty-two percent (11) of participants stated they would be 100 percent certain that they would utilize a tuition reimbursement program if offered by Major League Baseball.  Eleven participants stated that they would be very likely or somewhat likely to utilize this kind of service.  In contrast, only one participant was 100 percent certain that they would utilize career development programs if offered by Major League Baseball.  Fifty-two percent stated that they would be likely or somewhat likely to utilize these services. 
            Conclusions
Within the limitations of the study the following conclusions are warranted:
1.      Major League Baseball trails the NFL, NBA, and NHL in regards to offering career development and continuing education services to current and former players.
2.      Major League Baseball players graduate from college before and during their professional playing at significantly lower rate than their counterparts in the NFL, NBA, and NHL
3.      Division I baseball players graduate at a lesser rate as compared to student-athletes that participate in other Division I level sports.
4.      Although many players enter the ranks of professional baseball from the college level, a very low percentage (<10&) of players have obtained their four-year degree.
5.      Less than 20 percent of professional baseball players return to college during their first 3 years of professional baseball
6.       Most players that receive some sort of financial package for college included in their signing bonus do not enroll or re-enroll in college during their first five season of their playing career.
Implementations
The findings of the study may be implemented into either a professional practice situation or research setting in the following ways:
1.      A more comprehensive survey of professional baseball players should be conducted.  Minor league players of all levels and experience as well as players on Major League active rosters should be surveyed.
2.      Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Player’s Association, and public and private educational institutions should conduct a comprehensive study on the benefits or providing current and former players continuing education and career development. 
3.      Copying the success of the programs offered by the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball should implement programs to assist players with their career development and continuing education needs.   The NFL’s tuition reimbursement program and the NBA D-League’s program to assist minor league basketball players should be studied further.
4.      Division I baseball players should be made aware of the challenges of completing your degree after signing a professional baseball contract.  Programs should be implemented to assist collegiate baseball players in completing their educational requirements before they are drafted and sign their first professional contract.
Chapter V
Discussion
            Over one-thousand amateur baseball players sign their first professional baseball contract each year and begin their quest to reach the major leagues.  Many of these players sign out of a four-year university and begin their career before they obtain a four-year degree.  Some of these players will eventually reach the ultimate goal of playing at the major league level.  For those that ultimately reach the big league level even fewer of those players will  have a career in the Major Leagues that will provide them with lifetime financial security. The reality for an overwhelming majority of professional baseball players is that they will need to begin another career upon completion of their professional baseball career.  For those players, having a four-year degree will benefit them in their search for a new career.
            The findings in this study indicate that Major League Baseball trails the National Football League and the National Basketball Association in offering current and former players the programs and services necessary to assist current and former players the opportunity to finish their degree.  The review of literature shows that MLB is severely lacking in these programs.  The National Football League and the National Basketball Association are more successful at offering these types of services to their current and former players and encouraging players to utilize their services.  There are also significantly more college graduates on the current rosters of the teams in the National Football League and the National Basketball Association.  Approximately fifty percent of NFL players and twenty percent of NBA players have a four-year degree.(Abrams, 2009)  Successes in this area have allowed the NFL and NBA receive positive national press from various media outlets and assist former players in their transition to a career after sport.  Pablo S. Torre’s Sports Illustrated article “How and why athlete’s go broke”  is an excellent article that further demonstrates and provides examples of how professional athletes struggle after retirement.
            Although most participants surveyed received some type of financial package set aside for educational expenses in their initial signing bonus, very few players actually utilize these services during their playing careers.  The baseball season generally runs from February until October, therefore making it extremely difficult to enroll in the spring semester and very difficult for players to enroll during the fall semester.  The advent of online courses has eased the difficulty in enrolling but very few players actually take online classes during the baseball season. According the the questionnaire administered, only one of the 19 respondents stated that they had taken an online course since their playing career started.  Two of the 19 participants returned to campus in the during the fall semester to take additional coursework.  In this study, only one player out of 26 had already earned their four-year degree.  Only three of those twenty-six players had taken additional classes during their professional career.              Professional baseball players would be willing to participate in specific educational programs if they were offered and promoted by Major League Baseball.  Participants showed a strong interest in tuition reimbursement programs, flexible class scheduling opportunities, and off-season internship and job placement opportunities.  These programs have been offered and utilized with success by players in the National Football League and National Basketball Association.  Specifically, the NFL’s tuition reimbursement program and the NBA D-League’s continuing education program for minor league basketball players should be examined further. 
            Although it is ultimately the players’ responsibility to take care of their educational goals, Major League Baseball should encourage and provide the necessary resources for current and former players to obtain their four-year degree.  Through their programs, the NFL and NBA have increased the awareness of the importance of education to their players and have increased the number of players who receive their degree during their playing career. These successes help promote a positive image of their respective league in the community and help players prepare for the transition from an athletic career to a career after retirement from sport.   
           
Citations
Breakaway program-formerly known as life after hockey program. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://nhlalumni.net/?pid=alumni_lah_

Professional athlete training institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x270.xml

National football leage player development. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nfl.com/playerdevelopment/overview
Post game play: a plan for life. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nbpa.org/nbpa-news/post-game-play-plan-life
Torre, Pablo. (2009, March 23). How (and why) athletes go broke. Sports Illustrated, Retrieved from http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1153364/index.htm
Fernas, Rob. (2003, June 2003). Graduation rates low for baseball teams . Los Angeles Times, Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2003/jun/05/sports/sp-colbase5
Turbow, Jason. (2009, June 16). Who has the brainiest team in baseball. Wall Street Journal, Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124511558996917441.html

Shea, John. (2004, June 6). Degree of difficulty-draft system makes college graduates rare in major league baseball. San Francisco Chronicle, Retrieved from http://articles.sfgate.com/2004-06-06/sports/17431201_1_four-year-degrees-college-los-angeles-eric-karros
Abrams, Jonathan. (2009, October 5). Nba players make their way back to college. New York Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/sports/basketball/06nba.html
Mayo, Jonathan. (2010, October 11). Sun rising on arizona fall league season. Retrieved from http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20101011&content_id=15576710&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb
University of Colorado at Boulder (2007, July 11). Average Major League Baseball Career 5.6 Years, Says New Study. ScienceDaily.

Appendix
This section contains charts and graphs that might be useful to the reader.  The information in the appendix can be found throughout the study.
Appendix A. 
Graduation Success Rates for Division I Men’s SportsFour-Class Averages for 1999-02 Cohorts vs. 2000-03 Cohorts
SPORT
Four-Class Average
1999-02 Cohorts
Four-Class Average
2000-03 Cohorts
Basketball
83%
83%
Bowling
76%
72%
Crew
91%
92%
Cross Country/Track
85%
85%
Fencing
91%
91%
Field Hockey
93%
93%
Golf
88%
88%
Gymnastics
94%
93%



Ice Hockey
91%
88%
Lacrosse
94%
94%
Rifle
82%
74%
Skiing
98%
95%
Soccer
89%
89%
Softball
86%
86%
Swimming
91%
91%
Tennis
89%
89%
Volleyball
88%
88%



Water Polo
88%
88%

Appendix

Survey Results

Number of Responses:  26
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Other:
  
Other:
Continue to next page

  
Done   Make this a required question






Nu

Organizations Represented


Colorado Rockies
Baltimore Orioles
San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks
Washington Nationals

Year Drafted


2005

0
0%
2006

5
19%
2007

7
27%
2008

8
31%
2009

3
12%
2010

1
4%
Other

2
8%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Professional Experience

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=ff9900&chl=1%20%5B4%5D%7C2-3%20%5B10%5D%7C4-5%20%5B9%5D%7C6%2B%20%5B1%5D&chd=e%3AKqaqX.Cq
1 season

4
15%
2-3 seasons

10
38%
4-5 seasons

9
35%
6+ seasons

1
4%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Round Drafted In


1st Round

6
23%
Rounds 2-5

8
31%
Rounds 6-10

4
15%
Rounds 11-20

3
12%
Rounds 21+

4
15%
Free Agent

0
0%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

School signed out of

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=dcca02&chl=High%20School%20%5B5%5D%7CJunior%20College%20%5B1%5D%7C4-year%20University%20%5B19%5D&chd=e%3AMzCjwo
High School

5
19%
Junior College

1
4%
4-year University

19
73%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

HIghest Level of Education Completed

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=00d000&chl=High%20School%20Graduate%20%5B18%5D%7CAA%20Degree%20%5B4%5D%7CBachelor%27s%20Degree%20%5B1%5D%7CMaster%27s%20Degree%20%5B0%5D%7COther%20%5B3%5D&chd=e%3AsTJ2CdAAHY
High School Graduate

18
69%
AA Degree

4
15%
Bachelor's Degree

1
4%
Master's Degree

0
0%
Other

3
12%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

How much college coursework currently completed

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=9601ac&chl=None%20%5B4%5D%7CLess%20than%202%20years%20%5B1%5D%7C2-3%20years%20%5B11%5D%7C2%20semesters%20or%20less%20left%20to%20graduate%20%5B8%5D&chd=e%3AKqCqdUVV
None

4
15%
Less than 2 years

1
4%
2-3 years

11
42%
2 semesters or less left to graduate

8
31%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Do you plan on entering college or returning to college to obtain a four-year degree?

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=0000e0&chl=Yes%20%5B19%5D%7CNo%20%5B0%5D%7CUnsure%20%5B5%5D&chd=e%3AypAANV
Yes

19
73%
No

0
0%
Unsure

5
19%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Have you taken college coursework duuring your professional career?

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=ff9900&chl=Yes%20%5B4%5D%7CNo%20%5B20%5D&chd=e%3AKq1U
Yes

4
15%
No

20
77%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

What kind of  coursework have you taken?

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=d00000&chl=Enrolled%20on%20campus%20during%20fall%20semester%20%5B2%5D%7COnline%20classes%20%5B1%5D%7Ccompleted%20coursework%20independently%20%5B0%5D%7COther%20%5B23%5D&chd=e%3AE7CdAA4m
Enrolled on campus during fall semester

2
8%
Online classes

1
4%
completed coursework independently

0
0%
Other

23
88%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Did you receive money for college in your first professional contract?

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=dcca02&chl=Yes%20%5B22%5D%7CNo%20%5B2%5D%7CUnsure%20%5B0%5D&chd=e%3A6pFVAA
Yes

22
85%
No

2
8%
Unsure

0
0%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Do you think it is important to receive your four-year degree?

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=00d000&chl=Yes%20%5B20%5D%7CNo%20%5B1%5D&chd=e%3A88DD
Yes

20
77%
No

1
4%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Do you think it is important to obtain 4-year degree before playing career is over?
Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=9601ac&chl=Yes%20%5B6%5D%7CNo%20%5B7%5D%7CUnsure%20%5B11%5D&chd=e%3AP.SqdU
Yes

6
23%
No

7
27%
Unsure

11
42%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Have you received any career development assistance from a MLB organization during you career?
Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=0000e0&chl=Yes%20%5B18%5D%7CNo%20%5B5%5D&chd=e%3AyEN6
Yes

18
69%
No

5
19%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

What are your expectations for your baseball career?


Play in Majors at least one game

1
4%
1-2 years Major League service time

1
4%
3-5 years

1
4%
6-8 years

4
15%
8-12 years

6
23%
13+

12
46%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

What kind of player will you be at the big league level?


Bench player or middle reliever

2
8%
Platoon player or situational reliever

4
15%
Everyday player, starting pitcher, or closer

7
27%
All-star caliber player

6
23%
Hall of Fame caliber player

5
19%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Do you need a four-year degree to obtain the type of career you want after baseball?

Description: https://www.google.com/chart?cht=p&chs=345x150&chco=dcca02&chl=Yes%20%5B12%5D%7CNo%20%5B6%5D%7CUnsure%20%5B6%5D&chd=e%3Af.P.P.
Yes

12
46%
No

6
23%
Unsure

6
23%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

What percentage of MLB players have a four-year degree?


0-15 percent

9
35%
16-30

12
46%
31-50

3
12%
51-70

1
4%
71+

0
0%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

If offered tuition reimbursement by current organization, would you utilize it?


100 percent likely

11
42%
Very likely

5
19%
Somewhat likely

6
23%
Very unlikely

1
4%
Not likely at all

2
8%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

If offered career development service my MLB organization, how likely would you be to utilize it?

100 percent likely

1
4%
Very likely

7
27%
Somewhat likely

9
35%
Very unlikely

7
27%
No chance

1
4%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Check following services you would likely use if offered:

Enrollment assistance

12
55%
Tuition reimbursement

16
73%
Online course opportunities

13
59%
In-season tutoring and administrative help

4
18%
Flexible class scheduling

16
73%
Career development seminars

3
14%
Off-season internship/employment opportunities

13
59%
Resume building seminars

3
14%
Financial Management Seminars

6
27%
Myers-Briggs profile testing

3
14%

What kind of career do you plan on having after your baseball career is over?


Pro baseball coach

4
16%
Scout, agent, or front office position

0
0%
Start a baseball related business

8
32%
work for large company

5
20%
work in existing family business

0
0%
professional positions such, as lawyer, doctor, accountant

2
8%
Retirement

2
8%
Unsure

5
20%
Start a business

1
4%
High School or college coach

2
8%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.


PLAYER’S CONSENT FORM

I, _________________________, agree to participate in a research study titled “Professional Baseball Players:  A study of Current Educational Levels, their Professional Baseball Career Aspirations and Expectations, and their Educational and Career Goals after Retirement from Baseball” by Eric Knott, a student at Stetson University and Sports Management major.  This study is directed by Dr. Matt Wilson, Assistant Professor and Program Director of Sport Management at Stetson University (mjwilson@stetson.edu 386-822-8105).  I understand that my participation in this study is voluntary. 

The reason for this study is to examine why the percentage of Major League Baseball players who have a four-year degree is significantly less than professional athletes in the National Football League and National Basketball Association. 

If I choose to participate in this study, I will be asked to do the following things:

1.      Provide your name, age, college or universities attended, and current organization. 
2.      Answer 20 multiple choice questions that will take 3-5 minutes.
3.      My information will be kept confidential until all information is collected.  Once the information is collected and recorded the original survey document will be destroyed.

If there are any questions about the survey and the research or any concerns you might have about the research direct any questions to Eric Knott (eknott@stetson.edu 863.381.0410).  All inquiries will answered in a timely manner. 

By signing below, I am agreeing to participate in the above stated research study.  I understand that my name will not be published in this study and all information collected will be destroyed upon the gathering and recording of the research.


Name of Participant______________________

Signature_______________________________

Date___________________________________


ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE PLAYER QUESTIONAIRRE

NAME-______________________________________________
ORGANIZATION________________________________________
HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE ATTENDED_________________________
YEAR DRAFTED__________________________________________

1.       How many years of professional baseball experience do you have?
o   First season
o   2-3 season
o   4-5 season
o   6+ seasons
2.        What round were you drafted in?

o   First

o   2-5

o   6-10

o   10-20

o   21+

o   Free Agent

3.        Where did you sign out of?

o   High school

o   Junior College

o   4-year college/university

o   Foreign country

4.        What is your highest level of education completed?

o   High school graduate

o   AA degree

o   Bachelor’s Degree

o   Master’s Degree

5.       How much college coursework have you completed?

o   No college coursework completed

o   Less than 2 years of coursework completed

o   2-3 years of college completed

o   2 semesters or less left to complete college degree

6.        Do you plan on entering college or returning to college to obtain a 4-year degree

o   Yes

o   No         

o   Haven’t thought about it

7.        Have you taken additional college coursework during your professional baseball career?
o   Yes
o   No

8.       If yes, what kind of coursework have you taken?

        • Enrolled during the fall semester and took classes on campus

        • Took online classes

        • Completed coursework independently with assistance of a professor

9.        Did you receive any money set aside for college in your signing bonus?

o   Yes

o   No

10.    Do you think it is important for you, at some point in your life to obtain your four-year college degree?

o   Yes

o   No

11.    Do you think it is important to obtain your four-year degree before your playing career is over?

o   Yes

o   No

12.    Has your current organization offered you educational assistance during your playing career? 
Ex.: Enrollment assistance, academic advising services, tuition reimbursement programs,  in-season online course opportunities

o   Yes

o   No

13.    What are your expectation for the rest of your professional baseball career?

o   Hopefully reach the major leagues for at least one game.

o   Be on a major league roster continuously for 1-2 years

o   Be on a major league roster continuously for 3-5 years

o   Be on a major league roster continuously for 6-8 years

o   Play continuously in the major leagues for 8+ years

14.   If you reach the major league level what kind of player do you think you will be?

o   Bench player or middle relief

o   Platoon player or situational, late inning reliever

o   Everyday player, starting pitcher, or closer

o   All-star caliber player

o   Hall of Fame caliber player

15.   Do you think it is necessary to have a four-year degree to obtain the type of career you want after your playing career is over?

o   Yes

o   Not

o   Unsure, haven’t thought about it

16.   What percentage of current Major League baseball players have their four-year college degree?
o   0-15 Percent

o   16-30 percent

o   31-50 percent


o   51 to 70 percent

o   Greater than 71 percent

17.    If your current organization offered 100 percent tuition reimbursement for classes you complete online or on campus during the fall semester how likely would you be to take advantage of it?

o   100 percent likely

o   Very likely

o   Somewhat likely

o   Very unlikely

o   Not likely at all

18.    If your current organization offered career development programs such as:  job placement assistance, off-season internship opportunities and job skills development seminars how likely would you be to participate?

o   100 percent likely

o   Very likely

o   Somewhat likely

o   Very unlikely

o   Not likely at all

19.   Check all of the following services you would have an interest in utilizing if offered by your current organization or MLB.
o   Enrollment assistance
o   Tuition reimbursement
o   Online course opportunities
o   In-season tutoring and administrative support
o   Flexible class scheduling
o   Career Development Seminars
o   Off-season internship/employment opportunities
o   Resume building seminars
o   Financial Management Seminars
o   Myers-Briggs personality profile testing


20.    What kind of career do you plan on having after your baseball career is over?

o   Work in professional baseball as a coach
o   Work in professional baseball as scout, agent, or front office position
o   Start a baseball related business (indoor training facility)
o   High school or college coach
o   Start non-baseball related business
o   Work for large corporation
o   Work in existing family business
o   Professional position-lawyer, doctor, accountant, etc.
o   None, going to retire
o   Unsure
On the following page, please provide any additional input you have regarding your thoughts and opinions on the importance of obtaining your four-year degree.  Is it important to you?  Do you think a good career after baseball hinges on whether you get your degree or not?  Any thoughts or comments on the services currently offered to you by your current organization or MLB.  Remember all information obtained will remain confidential and only the final results of the study will be made public.

Thank you

Eric Knott
Stetson University Fall 2010



1 comment:

  1. Eric,
    My name is Jacob Meyer and I am doing research on a similar problem within the MLB. Do you have any sources that you utilized when researching this problem? That would be great to help me thanks!

    ReplyDelete