Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins’ Michael Thomas is all business (degree) on Thursday

Michael Thomas is a student as well as a mentor. He will graduate from the University of Miami with a business degree Thursday.
Michael Thomas is a student as well as a mentor. He will graduate from the University of Miami with a business degree Thursday. El Nuevo Herald

Michael Thomas might be a nickel for now, but he has wants his future to be about great big dollar signs.

And after cracking the books during the NFL’s offseason, the Dolphins defensive back has the tools to make that vision a reality.

Thomas on Thursday will graduate from the University of Miami’s Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes program.

While he technically has one more two-week session to complete after the Dolphins’ June minicamp, his friends and family will get to watch him walk the stage with the rest of UM’s post-graduate Class of 2016.

“I want to set myself up for life after football,” Thomas told the Miami Herald this week. “I can see myself go into business administration, and I might even be dealing with sports.”

So yes, the player could be one day become boss.

UM’s specialized 12-week program is intense, but Thomas is no stranger to academic challenges. He graduated from Stanford University with a sociology degree, but wanted a more practical post-graduate degree.

“It gave me the basic skills I need to have to have those conversations,” Thomas said.

Miami has a number of business programs specifically tailored for students with unique needs.

There’s a track for Spanish-speaking global executives. There’s another for students who want to work in the health sector.

The program for artists and athletes takes 18 months to complete. Along with the six, two-week, in-class residency modules, students also work remotely with three, seven-week courses. The same professors who teach the the school’s more traditional MBA classes

Thomas’ favorite class? Probably the hardest: accounting. It was a two-week crash course in balance sheets and financial statements.

“It's real-world concepts that NFL players deal with right now,” Thomas said. “How money is managed. How to balance out everything. We're making executive decisions, but we'll have a financial adviser. Instead of taking their word for it, I can make sure these numbers look right.”

Thomas already knows how to make a deal. He earned his private-school business degree on the cheap.

The NFL has a tuition assistance plan that reimburses current and former players up to $20,000 for tuition, fees and books related to undergraduate or post-graduate work.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley