May 20, 2011
NCAA rules allow schools to have a Professional Sports Counseling committee for their athletes as a design to help the transition from college athlete to the pros.
Since 1989, Duke basketball players have turned to professor Paul Haagen for advice about professional life after college.
"For the athletes, they're facing a problem for which their highest earning years are immediately after college,” said Haagen. “Some estimates are 80 percent of NBA players go through bankruptcy."
That's why Haagen now helps potential pro athletes from all Duke sports. He gives them advice on planning and lines them up with agents who will pay them proper attention and have a realistic vision for the athlete.
"I've certainly been doing it longer than anyone else,” Haagen said. “I am successful in so far as the coaches have faith in me."
"He's got his finger on the pulse of what's happening in professional sports,” said head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. “If any of our guys and their parents want Paul to sit in on meeting where they're trying to decide on an agent, Paul sits in."
"Very few other schools put this much--probably nobody puts this much effort into it,” said Haagen.
"My poster child is always Shane Battier,” Haagen gave as an example.
Thanks to Haagen's advice, Battier has successfully marketed himself in China, since he started his NBA career a teammate with Chinese superstar Yao Ming.
Haagen tries for athletes to learn their realistic marketing goals as early as possible.
"He's been a guide for all of us and has never asked for anything in return,” said Krzyzewski, “how cool is that?"