A Business Leader and Visionary
As a businessman, sport mogul, leader and a visionary, Jerry Colangelo's integrity and character resonate across GCU's business school.
After a successful collegiate basketball career with the University of Kansas and the University of Illinois where Jerry earned All-Big Ten honors, Jerry found himself a part of the Chicago Bulls basketball team. For two seasons, Jerry worked in a variety of jobs including marketing director, scout and assistant to the president; roles that put him on a path to Phoenix.
From the Beginning
Colangelo was born and raised in the "Hungry Hill" neighborhood of Chicago Heights, in a house that his grandfather constructed with wood from railroad cars. Colangelo is best known as the successful team owner of the Phoenix Suns and the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Only a few know the story that gave us one of the most influential sports businessmen, who worked with the NBA, MLB, NHL, WNBA and the USA Men's Basketball Team.
In 1968, at only 28 years old, Colangelo became the youngest general manager in sports history for a new expansion team, the Phoenix Suns. Jerry arrived to the Valley of the Sun with his wife and $300 to his name. In 1987, Colangelo fulfilled his dream and along with a group of investors, purchased the Phoenix Suns and changed the sports landscape in the Southwest forever. For forty years, the second longest tenure with a single team in NBA history, Colangelo's hands-on leadership style was evidenced in his many roles including general manager, head coach, president, managing general partner, chief executive officer and chairman. Colangelo's vision did not end with the NBA. In 1998, Jerry brought Major League Baseball to Phoenix and in just four years, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Championship, a record for Major League Baseball.
Accomplishments in Sports and Business
Through Colangelo's leadership and vision, he was instrumental in forming and developing several other teams that dominate the Valley's sports culture. In 1997, Colangelo helped bring the WNBA to Phoenix with the Phoenix Mercury and helped negotiate the move of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets to the desert, which now play as the Arizona Coyotes. In 1991, Colangelo formed the Arizona Rattlers, five-time arena football champions. In 2005, Jerry was named Director of USA Basketball, assembling the "Redeem Team" which went on to win gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. USAB won another Olympic Gold in London 2012, and World Championships in 2010 and 2014. Colangelo will continue to direct USAB through 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Off the Field
Colangelo co-authored How You Play the Game: Lessons for Life from the Billion-Dollar Business of Sports, published in 1999. His contributions to the city of Phoenix, professional sports, and the study of leadership are remarkable.
As an active community leader, Colangelo has demonstrated that a tireless work ethic and limitless ambition are enough for anybody to achieve greatness. His accomplishments transcend the world of sports and inspire future generations of leaders. Grand Canyon University proudly features his name in the Colangelo College of Business for his contributions to the corporate world and to the university.