Colangelo College of Business unveiled

September 25, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

Jerry Colangelo has long been a nationally renowned leader in sports, the most influential business and community icon in the Valley and a valued adviser for Grand Canyon University. Now his integrity and expertise will command an even larger presence at GCU.

Three years after the Colangelo School of Sports Business was created, University officials announced at a press conference this morning that Colangelo’s name will be on the entire College of Business. The new name: Colangelo College of Business (CCOB).

Jerry Colangelo has played an important role at Grand Canyon University, and his influence will be even greater now that his name will be on the College of Business. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

Jerry Colangelo has played an important role at Grand Canyon University, and his influence will be even greater now that his name will be on the College of Business. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

“Having Jerry Colangelo’s name associated with our College of Business will serve as an inspiration and a role model for our students for generations to come,” GCU President/CEO Brian Mueller said. “He represents the best of what it means to be a Christian university as a man of faith, a man of family, a man of character and a man of integrity. We want to instill those same qualities in every one of our students and set the expectation among employers that, when they hire a GCU graduate, they’re hiring a sharp, values-driven future business leader.”

Colangelo said, “Grand Canyon University has built a strong reputation for arming students with the skills and vision necessary to hit the ground running on day one. I am both excited and humbled to have the opportunity to help the University evolve its business program and offer our graduates the chance to take the local and national business community by storm.”

Colangelo has been among the most influential people in the Valley since 1968, when he became general manager of the Phoenix Suns at age 28. He was the youngest general manager in professional sports.

He bought the Suns in 1987 and turned a struggling franchise into the team that went to the NBA Finals in 1993, and in 1998 he brought professional baseball to Phoenix when the Arizona Diamondbacks were born. In only their fourth season, the D-backs won the World Series, denying the New York Yankees their fourth consecutive championship.

He also was instrumental in the creation of three other local franchises — the Mercury (pro women’s basketball), Rattlers (arena football) and Sandsharks (indoor soccer) — and helped bring hockey to the Valley when the Coyotes were moved here from Winnipeg.

Colangelo was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004 and was named the first managing director of the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team a year later. Under his leadership, the U.S. has four straight international gold medals, including golds at the last two Olympics.

His get-things-done approach also has been evident in the rapid growth of GCU’s sports business school, which has gone from 194 on-campus students in 2011 to 286 in 2012, 320 in 2013 and 400 this school year. Similarly, the number of online students has jumped from 221 in 2011 to 330 and then 493. This year’s online total was not available.

Colangelo is a frequent visitor to classes and events at GCU, and Dr. Brian Smith, director of the School of Sports Business, said he talks with Colangelo regularly — an average of about once a week but some weeks as many as four or five times — and greatly values the “30,000-foot view” Colangelo provides with his ability to see the landscape of an issue today and five or even 10 years down the road.

“I’m just blessed. I like to be around him and just listen to him,” Smith said. “It’s pretty cool to have my cell phone ring and it’s him. He has completely over-delivered. He’s hands-on with what we’re doing with the program. He cares. It’s much more than just a name on the building.”

The sports business school will continue to have Colangelo’s name on it, only now he’ll get an opportunity to put his stamp on the entire college. Colangelo’s influence at GCU has been evident in other ways, including the hiring of one of his former Suns players, Dan Majerle, as head coach of the men’s basketball team. Colangelo has been on the University’s board of directors and has been an adviser in its transition to Division I athletics.

“His thumbprint is all over campus,” COB Dean Dr. Randy Gibb said. “With his character, his family values, the fact that he’s a very successful entrepreneur and his ability to help students get immersed in the community, he will take GCU to the next level.”

In conjunction with today’s announcement, GCU is creating a new scholarship program for high school seniors who best exemplify the characteristics Colangelo exhibits — a commitment to academic excellence, impeccable character and integrity, and a strong sense of community — but whose college options might be limited for financial or family reasons.

Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or

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