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Partnerships that Matter: Alumnus Helps Make MMS A Slam Dunk

In his role with Duke Athletics, Kenny King (Cross Continent MBA ’08) advises basketball players wishing to pursue business.

By Tim Candon — This article was originally published in the Team Fuqua alumni magazine.

April 05, 2011
Kenny King

Kenny King helps to take down the basketball net after the Blue Devils won the NCAA Final Four game last year.

When Kenny King returned to Duke to work for the athletic department only two years after completing his undergraduate degree, he knew he’d have the opportunity to pursue his MBA at Fuqua. But upon completing the Cross Continent MBA in 2008, he had no idea that he would eventually help others to pursue a similar business education.

King, Director of Student Life and Campus Relations for Duke Men’s Basketball, has been a big supporter of Fuqua’s Master of Management Studies (MMS) program. Since it launched in 2009, King has helped nearly a dozen Duke student-athletes enroll in the 10-month program.

“It’s been exciting because there are many student-athletes who are interested in business as undergrads, but they may not be able to pursue all the required courses due to their competition schedules,” King explains. “Nonetheless, they want to start their career in a business-related field but they don’t have the training to do that. When Fuqua started talking about creating a one-year master’s program, we thought that would help bridge the gap. We felt very strongly there’d be great interest from athletes.”

As the MMS program was approved, King was a natural champion for it and promoted it to Duke athletes, drawing upon his personal experiences both within the athletic department and at Fuqua. Once athletes were accepted to the program, King helped them to adjust.

“One of my main responsibilities is to help student-athletes find a balance at Duke,” King says. “Duke has so much to offer, and all of our students are so driven and goal-oriented that they want to pursue many different things. It can be difficult for them to find a balance in that.”

King relates to the student-athletes because he attended Duke as an undergraduate, earning his degree in economics, with a minor in chemistry, in 2000. At the time, he also spent four seasons as a student manager with the men’s basketball program, and he became well regarded by Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Then in 2002, while King was based in London, working as an analyst in Morgan Stanley’s Fixed Income Division, he received a phone call from Krzyzewski.

“Coach K called and offered me a job as the basketball program’s director of academics. It was an easy decision,” King remembers. “I knew being a part of the program was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was too good to pass up. You don’t say ‘no’ to Coach K.”

King embraced his new role, relishing the opportunity to gain exposure to athletics administration. Focusing on the basketball team, he helped them with class scheduling, tutoring, time management, and long-term academic and career planning. But he also wanted to stay connected to finance, and Coach K strongly encouraged him to consider pursuing his MBA. In 2006, he enrolled in the Cross Continent program.

“The format is very flexible and allowed me to connect with more people on campus,” King says. “I knew that would help in my role [within athletics]. It worked out brilliantly and I had an unbelievable experience. Now I advise student athletes who are interested in finance and professional school. I can speak to them first-hand about my experiences.”

He also now has the option of talking to students about the MMS program. Though the program is still relatively new, King believes it has been—and will continue to be—a success.

“The main feedback [from students] has been the courses they’re exposed to are not only exciting and challenging, but applicable to a lot of careers,” King says. “Our student-athletes have found it beneficial in helping prepare them for the first step or next step in their careers. It’s been a home run and we expect it to continue.”