Sokolov-Miller Family Center brings financial education to athletes

Sean Yoder
October 11, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The image of the wealthy athlete lifestyle as portrayed in popular media doesn’t necessarily correlate to reality.

Take runners, for example. A survey from the Track and Field Athletes Association in 2013 showed a large portion of runners self-reported earning less than $20,000 per year, according to Competitor Magazine.

And while athletes are still in school, there’s no endorsement deals or payments for wins.

The Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center is expanding its mission to bring an education of financial wellness to Penn State’s student athletes, both to help them in the short term as they manage their lives, studies and sports; as well as in the future when they leave campus.

“There’s 800 student-athletes (at Penn State) and most of them who go on to play professional sports are not going to be making millions of dollars a year,” said Brad Yeckley, who is the center’s assistant director and designated liaison to spearhead the programs for athletes.

In mid-summer, before the bulk of students were back on campus at University Park, Yeckley was joined by 150 student-athletes in the summer bridge program for a July session on everything from job security and earning potential to credit, loans and FICO credit scores. A week later the first-year football players found themselves in another of Yeckley’s presentations. Throughout the fall 2018 semester, the center has on its docket another eight sessions in biobehavioral health classes geared for first-year athletes.

Yeckley said the center tailors communications to students partially based on their academic year. For many, their sophomore year in college will be the first time they live on their own and not with family or in a residence hall. Those in their junior or senior year are looking more toward starting their careers and life after school.

Rosie Tarnowski, assistant director of academic support for football at the Morgan Academic Center, said this type of education will benefit student athletes long after they leave the University.

“The (Sokolov-Miller) center is an incredible resource to have on Penn State’s campus and its partnership with athletics will provide our student-athletes with a solid foundation to make wise financial decisions,” she said. “Brad was able to present topics such as credit scores, retirement accounts and budgeting to our student-athletes in a fun and interactive way and stressed the importance of developing good financial habits now.”

Keith Embray, assistant athletic director for student-athlete welfare and development, said partners like the center allow Athletics to build on existing programs and be innovative in the resources they provide for student-athletes.

“We are very fortunate to have campus partners like the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center committed to assisting us in preparing our student-athletes for a lifetime of impact,” Embray said. “From the initial conversations when I arrived almost three years ago, to now benefiting from programs designed to meet our student-athletes wherever they are in their financial literacy, has been great to see and be a part of.”

Although these financial literacy and life skills presentations are geared to student-athletes, the same messages are being delivered to an expanding number of students and groups at Penn State. That growth has been made possible by a recent gift from Sokolov-Miller family.

“The growth of the center has enabled us to expand services equitably across the University, including athletics,” said Daad Rizk, director of the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center.

The center has a busy schedule ahead for the rest of the fall semester. From July through December in 2017, the center delivered total of 53 sessions, including workshops, presentations to groups and classes, and webinars that are available to all Penn Staters, reaching 3,272 people in fiscal year 2018. Already there have been 129 completed or planned sessions for the same time frame this year, and these sessions are estimated to reach over 4,500 people.

Penn State’s Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center offers services to the entire Penn State community and is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated October 11, 2018