Two days into training camp with the Chicago Bears, Maurice Covington’s hamstring tore—and took his future plans with it. “Being focused about football and wanting to make it to the NFL and then having that taken from me,” says the former UVA wide receiver, “that transition was terrible.”
A decade later, Covington has turned that painful setback into a flourishing career. At Charlottesville- based Rede Wealth, he’s helping pro athletes make smart money decisions to prepare for a life after sports.
The Durham, North Carolina, native spent 2005 to 2008 with the Virginia Cavaliers. After his injury, he pursued a degree in sports management at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he worked as a graduate assistant and academic advisor for student athletes.
“I would constantly see the same thing,” Covington recalls. “These athletes—some of them were my friends, some of them were kids I mentored, some of my teammates—I would constantly see them go off and play three, four, five, six, seven years in the NFL or NBA, and then always revert back to their college for help.”
A 2009 Sports Illustrated study found that 78 percent of ex-NFL and NBA players were broke or struggling two years after retiring. “The biggest mistake they make,” Covington says, “is thinking that the money they’re earning at that level is going to come in forever.”
Athletes often spend beyond their means, fail to shop around for the best deals on big-ticket purchases, or offer their families financial help in ways they just can’t sustain long-term, he says. And they often fail to identify passions beyond sports, or seize the opportunities to network and work toward those interests.
After completing his degree at LSU, in 2012 Covington moved to UVA’s athletic program. He helped build a series of workshops that teach students to identify career goals and cultivate business skills—resume-building, elevator pitches, even dressing for success.
But Covington wanted to do even more to help, and a 2016 job offer from Rede CEO and co-founder Stephen McNaughton gave him that opportunity. At Rede, Covington manages money for around a dozen pro athletes—confidentiality forbids him from naming them—plus other local and national entrepreneurs.
Covington creates budgets for clients to follow, advises them on big-ticket purchases, helps them cultivate their credit, and creates custom portfolios to sock away a healthy share of their earnings. “They’re not putting too much of their assets in them, but enough to create them a nice pot of money,” he says. “Always, the goal is long-term wealth.”
Looking forward, Covington hopes he can help even more athletes avoid the pain he once felt. “There’s so many athletes out there mismanaging money or doing the wrong things, and some of them even being advised by the wrong people,” he says. “I really just want to be able to touch more people, and help them learn proper money management skills and save wisely for the future.”