Athabasca University Unveils its Hockey MBA

If you had aspirations to play in the NHL but lacked the skills, here is another way to achieve your passion in a hockey first, a university graduate level program designed to develop the leaders in the boardroom, rather than on the ice. 

Athabasca University has collaborated with the Business of Hockey Institute to develop an elite, hockey specific MBA, to elevate the business side of the game.

The program called “The Business of Hockey,” which was the idea of player agent Ritch Winter, who took his concept to Brian Burke when Burke was GM in Toronto but now the Calgary Flames president of hockey operations. Burke loved it, and, made a presentation at an NHL Board of Governors meeting to help along the process.  The brainchild Winter had was a program that would be an intellectual minor-league system of sorts for hockey fans who want to marry their passion for hockey with a career in the front office.

It took Winter several years of working through a number of hurdles and to find the right university that would allow students to enroll from around the world.  Athabasca University, which launched the world’s first, fully interactive online-based MBA program in the 1990s, allowed students to complete their Executive MBA studies in under three years from wherever they live.

“You’ve got time on airplanes, you’ve got time after the kids go to bed, you can get up early — you’ve got to find time to do it or watch the guy next to you do it and go right past you,” said Burke, who also attended Harvard Law School. “This will produce a steady stream of qualified people that will have an impact on the game on the talent side and on the business side".

With new post-secondary options this program opens the possibility for retired players or those who did not make the NHL. Winter says initial courses will be similar to those of a standard MBA program, then will veer into hockey-specific classes, such as Information Technology Strategy for Hockey, Hockey Operations and Managing Franchises Strategically.

“This is going to be a rigorous MBA, a serious program,” Winter said.

sources: Calgary Sun and Athabasca University