Wharton School's Shropshire leaving for new Arizona State sports center

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Kenneth L. Shropshire, director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, is leaving to join Arizona State University to design and lead a new international sports center.

Kenneth L. Shropshire, a professor of sports, business and law, and director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, is leaving to join Arizona State University to lead a new international sports center.

Shropshire, 62, a lawyer and professor at the Wharton School and Penn's department of Africana studies for the last 30 years, was named founder and faculty director of Arizona State’s sports business initiative as of July 1. He will be a professor emeritus at Wharton, according to an Arizona State spokesman.

The author of 12 books and co-host of a national sports business show on SiriusXM radio, Shropshire will become the first Adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport at Arizona State, a position newly endowed by the apparel company.

“From podcasts and documentaries to hosting events globally, this presented an extraordinary opportunity to make the work going on in the academy more impactful by broadly disseminating it in journalistic form,” he said.

At Arizona State, Shropshire will hold a joint faculty appointment at the W.P. Carey School of Business and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with affiliate faculty appointments at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the School of Social Transformation’s African and African American Studies program.  He will be charged with designing, building and leading Arizona State’s sports institute, which is expected to be launched this year. Shropshire also will be the center’s CEO.

“The role and impact of sports on the world is growing rapidly in both scale and complexity,” Arizona State president Michael M. Crow said in a statement.

Shropshire was recruited to Arizona State by Ray Anderson, a former NFL executive who is the school’s athletic director.  "I have known Ken since becoming teammates on the Stanford football team in 1973,” Anderson said. “I have no doubt he will bring dynamic energy to this exciting initiative."

After earning an economics degree from Stanford, Shropshire graduated from Columbia Law School in 1980. He practiced law in Los Angeles and served for three years as an executive with the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee before joining the Wharton faculty in 1986.

In 2000, Mayor John F. Street appointed Shropshire to chair Philadelphia’s stadium site-selection committee. Shropshire's consulting clients have included the NFL, the Miami Dolphins, and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Shropshire will remain a member of the boards of directors of Moelis & Co. and the nonprofit USA Volleyball and Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. His books include In Black and White: Race and Sports in America, The Business of Sports, and The Business of Sports Agents. His current book project, The Mis-Education of the Student-Athlete, focuses on athletes' degree completion.

His household is filled with athletes: Diane, his wife, a Philadelphia anesthesiologist, is a former doubles tennis champion at Stanford; their daughter, Theresa, played varsity squash at Stanford; and their son, Sam, is a three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection on the Northwestern University tennis team, with plans to play professionally.

“Wharton was great, and Philly’s been home for 30 years," said Shropshire, who moved here in 1986, living in Mount Airy for many years. "But, frankly, I want to work on podcasts, documentaries, and drill down deeper on issues, and build something across an innovative university.

“ASU wants this thing to be global; it will be different from Wharton’s center, and bigger," he said. "This will be a university-wide endeavor, bringing in the Mayo Clinic, the Cronkite School. We want to answer questions like: 'Should your kid play with a concussion? Should cities bid on the Olympics? Does Gatorade work?' Whereas at Wharton, we focused more on traditional business issues.”

Shropshire said he plans to maintain a residence in Philadelphia, at the new One Riverside apartment complex.

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