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April 9, 2002


Contact: Brian Flinn at (917) 864-7002 or Russ White at (517) 432-0923 or


EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State University and the National Basketball Development League (NBDL) have launched a landmark continuing education program for NBDL players.

The online certificate program was designed by the NBDL and Michigan State as a part of MSU's Global Online Connection, which focuses on developing custom learning programs for a wide range of organizations, and will be able to meet the individual educational interests of athletes.

"The NBDL is all about development and our Michigan State University partnership stands as a great example," said Janice Hilliard, director of player programs. "We look forward to expanding the program and the number of participants in the years ahead."

The NBDL and MSU, which is considered one of the leading online educational institutions in the nation, launched this year's pilot program with six participants: North Charleston Lowgators forwards Sedric Webber and Antonio Grant, Fayetteville Patriots guard Brian Wardle and center Jeff Aubry, and Mobile Revelers guard Isaac Fontaine and head coach Sam Vincent.

Participants selected specific coursework to complement their undergraduate degrees in a broad range of disciplines, including interpersonal communications, conflict management, negotiations, effective meetings and effective presentations.

"One of the first organizations we partnered with was the National Basketball Development League, which came to us with an idea for a career development program for its players and coaches," said Christine Geith, director of the Global Institute. "We created a program to enhance the players' business communication skills with the flexibility required by the players' and coaches' schedules. In between practice and league games, at home or on the road, participants are honing their skills using courseware and instructor support from MSU."

Participants are provided with a laptop and CDs that contain the curriculum and coursework. Each participant communicates weekly with professors, who in turn submit progress reports to the NBDL and MSU on a weekly basis.

"It is extremely important to continue my education and prepare for life after basketball," said Fontaine, who also plans to return to school this summer to pursue his master's degree in accounting.

Fontaine was one of seven NBDL players called up to the NBA during the NBDL's inaugural season and continued working on his professional certificate while he played for the Memphis Grizzlies.

The NBDL, the NBA's minor league, includes the Fayetteville Patriots (N.C.), North Charleston Lowgators (S.C.), Huntsville Flight (Ala.), Mobile Revelers (Ala.), Roanoke Dazzle (Va.), Columbus Riverdragons (Ga.), Greenville Groove (S.C.) and Asheville Altitude (N.C.).

The league offers players the opportunity to develop their talent in a highly competitive atmosphere under the NBA's umbrella. The NBDL serves as a source of on-court talent for the NBA's 29 teams and as a diverse human resources pool for the NBA and its teams by training employees in management, operations, public relations, sales and marketing positions in each NBDL city.

The Global Institute is part of MSU Global Online Connection, the academic business unit within the Office of the Provost responsible for supporting the colleges' efforts to develop and market online programs and services.