Former Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer is among a long list of famous sporting names due to graduate with a masters degree in Sporting Directorship.
The current Bradford City boss enrolled on the Manchester Metropolitan University course while out of work following his departure from Blackburn Rovers in 2016.
However it was during his time at Bloomfield Road the 48-year-old studied for the degree, which prepares sports professionals for the role of sporting director and other senior management positions within sports organisations.
Bowyer graduates having earned a distinction.
Alongside Bowyer in this year’s list of graduates include ex-Bolton Wanderers striker Kevin Davies, England and Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and former Derby County captain Michael Johnson.
Former Newcastle United duo Scott Sellars and Steve Harper are also among the sports stars who went back to the classroom to achieve a Masters of Sport Directorship.
Harper said: “The course has been tough and challenging but I’ve loved every minute.
“I enrolled because I don’t think there are enough people in boardrooms with experience of playing the game.
“In the sporting director role it’s important to understand players. You are responsible for recruitment and also need an awareness of departments like sports science and the academy.”
Alumni from the post-graduate course include England director of cricket Ashley Giles, former Aston Villa director of football Steve Round, Hull City’s head of recruitment Lee Darnbrough and West Bromwich Albion coach Michael Appleton.
Taking place in Manchester on July 19, the MSD degree ceremony will see the sports stars line up in gowns and mortar boards with hundreds of other new Manchester Metropolitan University graduates to receive their degree certificates from vice chancellor Malcolm Press.
Mark Batey, head of the MSD course, said: “The sporting director role has become integral to the success of football clubs, as well as for a huge range of other sports organisations.
"Manchester Met’s unique MSD is the go-to qualification in the field and has transformed many of our students’ careers.
“It’s awesome to see another group of professional sports people graduate, ready to guide their organisations through times of great opportunity and change.
“They will bring the skills of high-performance leadership, governance and commercial management, along with practical insights for harnessing creativity and innovation that are so essential to successful sports organisations.”
The academically rigorous two-year, part-time masters course is designed to develop the commercial skill sets and personal attributes that are required to succeed as a top flight sporting director.
The course features masterclasses from world-renowned speakers and engaging sessions that blend expert insight with practical tools.
Working alongside fellow sporting directors, students cover leadership, managing high-performing organisations, creativity and innovation, sporting governance and compliance, and finish with a dissertation.