Monday, June 7, 2010

Boston College's Professional Sports Counseling Panel: Helping Student-Athletes with the Decision to turn Pro

Good piece by Albert Breer in the Boston Globe on Boston College's Professional Sports Counseling Panel, a BC entity which helps its students-athletes with the challenges and opportunities related to turning pro. No other school has a panel like the one offered at BC; they instead use advisers for individual teams. Breer highlights the excellent work of BC Assistant Dean Warren Zola, who serves as Chairman of the Panel.

Here's an excerpt:

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Boston College won’t be mistaken for Southern Cal or Florida as an NFL pipeline. But in player development, the Eagles feel they have a chance to set the standard.

Warren Zola , an assistant dean in the Carroll School of Management at BC, helped organize the school’s Professional Sports Counseling Panel five years ago and has served as chairman, a non-paying position, since then.

The idea? Give student-athletes with professional potential in all sports the training to prepare for the next level. Some schools have coaches or officials for specific sports to handle these matters. But Zola says that, to his knowledge, BC is the only one to have an overarching group separate from the individual programs.

“It may be cliché, but it feels like we’re doing something good, helping young folks make good decisions, and this is a way for me to stay connected to athletics,’’ said Zola, who also teaches sports business and sports law classes.

Zola graduated from Tulane’s law school in 1992, and wanting to stay in athletics but not work as an agent, he got a job working in Athletic Operations at BC. With the blessing of then-football coach Tom Coughlin, he was soon helping Pete Kendall, Tom Nalen, Glenn Foley, and Mike Mamula prepare for the NFL.

When the panel launched in 2005, Zola’s goals were to make sure athletes knew the rules and could navigate the process while preserving their eligibility, and to educate them on picking an agent.

Zola has helped big-timers like Matt Ryan, B.J. Raji, and Jared Dudley, but also sees his presence as vital to the rookie free agent or female basketball player looking to find a contract in Europe.

“Matt Ryan will have no problem getting the right agent,’’ he said. “It’s the others where you have to make sure they understand what’s critical.’’

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To read the rest, click here.