It's back to school time for two Buffalo Bills players this week. Fourth-year cornerback Ashton Youboty and sixth-year defensive lineman Spencer Johnson will attend the NFL-sponsored Business Management and Entrepreneurial Programs at the Wharton and Harvard Business Schools.
The two will be joining 77 current and former NFL players who have also enrolled in the programs. The business seminars are part of an NFL Players Association-led initiative to help players prepare for life after football.
Harvard's program is set to commence today for Johnson. The Wharton school course Youboty will be attending is slated to start Tuesday. Both programs run through Friday.
Youboty, who earned an undergraduate degree in Finance Management from Ohio State University in 3 ½ years, will be returning to his old home, Philadelphia, while attending the Wharton School at Penn program.
"It works out real well for me because the school is just a couple of miles away from where some of my family lives," Youboty told BuffaloBills.com "I'll be up there for a week. They've been trying to get me out there for two years now. Normally when I go it's just for a day or two and now they get me for a week. So it'll be good to catch up with them."
While he looks forward to the opportunity to catch up with family, Youboty recognizes just how beneficial the program can be.
"A couple years out of college you kind of become more aware of what's important to you and what you want to get into," he said. "I think it's a great opportunity to network with other guys in the league and expand my knowledge of the business field."
The cornerback is no stranger to the business world. Youboty already owns his own music production agency, Broken Chains Entertainment, and he is a partial owner of a record label. The program, he hopes, will help him learn how to run the day-to-day operations of both a bit more efficiently.
"I'd like to divide my energies between those two ventures," he said, " and hopefully this business school experience will help me get them going and operating the right way."
Not to be stopped there, Youboty has started searching elsewhere for more opportunities. It's safe to say he has definitely taken on the entrepreneurial spirit.
"I have a lot of ideas," he said. "I'm actually looking into an internship with a TV production company in (Los Angeles). I really am looking forward to Wharton because now I'm being a little more mature in my approach to the education process. I'm not just trying to get by. I really want to put all my focus into this opportunity."
Youboty continued, "I graduated in '06. I was a finance management major, but I'm interested in a lot of other stuff too, especially in the entertainment field. I'm hoping the business school can help give me some guidance in running companies. I'm hoping it can help me in my near future with life after football."
Last year, Brad Butler, Ryan Denney and Trent Edwards attended the program, which as of this year has had 502 player participants in its five-year history. And it was partially their experiences that led Youboty to enter the program.
"A few guys mentioned it, especially Brad Butler," Youboty said. "He gave me a general idea as to how it went. Our Director of Player Programs, Paul Lancaster, also suggested it to me. He's been on me about doing it. I finally signed up and decided to take advantage of it."
The Harvard program will touch upon a large area of business-related issues, as will Wharton's agenda. They will differ in that the Ivy League school plans to address legal issues, business plan analysis, negotiations and operations. The program at Wharton will place an emphasis on entrepreneurship and business building. Both are going to include real estate situations in their respective curriculums.