Cross helps with crossover


Dan Cross helped lead the Florida basketball team to its first ever Final Four in 1994. (The Associated Press)

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 10:46 p.m.

After helping lead Florida to a Final Four in 1994, point guard Dan Cross went on to a successful pro basketball career overseas.

But Cross realized that not all the athletes he knew in other sports were as fortunate.

“There’s a 99-percent ratio that are looking to enter the workforce immediately,” Cross said.

So when his playing career ended in 2005, he launched a business that helps place jobs for athletes coming out of college. Called “Athlete Connection,” it has helped hundreds of former athletes to start careers out of school.

Cross said it’s tough for athletes to network coming out of school due to NCAA regulations that limit booster-athlete contact.

“They’re in a position to help and employ, but we’re put at a disadvantage a lot of times if we don’t understand how to network,” Cross said. “There were some voids that were missing with the transition from sports to life after sports, the lack of preparation when it comes to a lot of student-athletes, when it comes to what careers you want to go into after sports.”

Cross himself has dabbled in broadcasting Florida basketball games (during the 2010 and 2011 seasons) and runs summer basketball camps for his charitable foundation. Living in Orlando, Cross still closely follows the Gators and takes pride in being part of the first of four Final Four teams in UF history.

“To see the transition and the development of the tradition of University of Florida basketball, it’s been a great experience to see what’s taken place,” Cross said.

But Cross now takes as much pride in helping fellow athletes succeed in the business world.

“There are a lot of companies that look for student-athlete qualities, such as insurance companies, such as financial companies like Nationwide and State Farm insurance,” Cross said. “They look for the key and driven people that are very competitive. Since athletes are very competitive, you will find this particular niche market of employers, such as pharmaceuticals, insurance, financial services.”

In one instance, Cross helped former Tennessee women’s soccer player Melissa Amado. A Canadian, Amado was looking to secure a work visa in the United States following the end of her college career. Amado attended several of his events in Orlando, which put her in touch with business professionals.

“Within actually 72 hours she was hired, and she understood how to network, how to get business cards, how to follow up,” Cross said.

Amado started a career in marketing with Wyndham Vacation Ownership in 2008.

“I couldn’t thank Athlete Connections enough for the support, mentorship, networking and employment opportunities they provided me,” Amado said.

Due to his Southeastern Conference ties, Cross started his client list with several athletes throughout the SEC. But Cross said it’s now expanded to athletes throughout the country.

“What you’ll find is there are athletes all across the country that are in the same position,” Cross said. “It’s what is next for their careers. So we’ve had a gamut of both gender athletes who are looking for employment opportunities. Everybody wants a job.”

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