Kennesaw State Student Drafted by Arizona Diamondbacks On Track to Earn MBA

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 29, 2022) — Despite being drafted as a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks professional baseball team in 2021, Kennesaw State University student Jake Rice has not let that get in the way of his studies. Rice has continued taking classes in the Master of Business Administration program and has recently accepted a sales internship with landscape supply company SiteOne.

Kennesaw State MBA student Jake Rice drafted by Arizona Diamondbacks

Rice began his college baseball career at Presbyterian College in South Carolina. After earning his management degree, he received a scholarship to play for Kennesaw State while pursuing his evening MBA.

“I grew up always wanting to play for KSU, so it was a dream to play here,” Rice said.

During his first year on the team – a season that saw Rice throw 79 strikeouts (a team record) as starting pitcher in all 13 games – he was recruited by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the ninth round of the 2021 MLB draft to play for their minor league affiliate team, the Amarillo Sod Poodles. This success did not mean Rice was finished with Kennesaw State.

“A lot of guys would decide to put school off until after their baseball career,” he said. “I decided to keep going. I said, ‘I started this, and I want an opportunity to finish it.’”

After his recruitment to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Rice transitioned from the in-person evening MBA program to the online WebMBA option. This allowed Rice to maintain the same level of instruction he received in person while providing him the flexibility to balance his studies with the demands of a professional baseball season.

“Baseball taught me about time management,” Rice said. “I knew playing ball and getting my MBA was going to be a task, but the WebMBA program made it that much easier to keep going.”

Rice is spending the off season in Greenville, S.C. completing an internship with irrigation and landscape supply company SitOne. Rice’s focus is specifically on pesticide sales.

“This is a world that I am used to,” he said. “My family has been involved in chemical sales for most of my upbringing…. [Working with SiteOne has] been an amazing experience with a great culture and environment,” said Rice.

After his internship, Rice will continue his baseball career and graduate from the MBA program in 2023. His goal is to leverage skills gained from the MBA program and his internship to allow for a path once his baseball career has ended.

“The MBA program has prepared me for a future career after baseball,” Rice said. “I will be able to go into any sales position I desire and thrive.”

Ellen Hearn, program coordinator for the MBA program, has helped Rice adjust to the change from the in-person to the online MBA.

“With a non-traditional career, Jake has been very thoughtful and careful with his course planning,” Hearn said. “He's done a great job balancing a challenging work schedule with the MBA curriculum and working with his team in the WebMBA.” 

Rice has been grateful for the support of the program’s faculty and staff who have helped him continue pursuing both of his professional dreams. 

“The professors have been great and have taught me what it looks like to be a leader and a team player in the work force.”

-Daijah Sims

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