By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala - One day on Wall Street in 2008, Dave Maloney and 10 other former college athletes were arguing about who was the best.
Thus was born The Decathlon.
Modeled after the Olympic decathlon and the NFL Scouting Combine, Maloney, a former Auburn track and field and cross country runner, created a series of amateur athletic events that have since raised more than $7,000,000 for pediatric cancer research.
"An innocent start that grew into something that was not planned, but I'm enjoying the journey so far," Maloney says.
Starting in New York City in 2009, The Decathlon's 10 events include a 40-yard dash, pull-ups and a 500-meter rowing contest.
Contestants from financial services firms compete for trophies and titles while also raising money to fight cancer.
Expanding to Boston, Chicago, Houston and San Francisco, The Decathlon partnered with NBC Sports Network, which televised The New York Decathlon in June.
"It's wild. It takes a lot of hard work. It's gratifying," says Maloney, who left his job at Morgan Stanley and moved to Houston to run The Decathlon full-time. "I like to think we're still early in the life cycle of this business."
Growing up in New Jersey, Maloney began his college career at Texas, transferring to Auburn after his freshman year.
"It felt like a place where I could succeed athletically, and it was a very welcoming place," Maloney says. "A place that you want to be during that phase of your life. It felt like home."
He ran the 800 meters and the mile, and was a two-time member of the SEC's Academic Honor Roll, graduating in 2001 with a communications degree.
"I loved competing in the outdoor SEC Track and Field Championships. That meet is, arguably, just as competitive as the NCAA Championships and was chock-full of Olympic medalists and really some legendary track and field athletes," he says. "I was honored to share the stage, albeit for just a short period of time."
While at Auburn, Maloney also supported his fellow student-athletes.
"Our men's basketball team had a magical run," Maloney says. "We beat Kentucky at home on ESPN and I sat front-row, and that's fresh in my mind today, despite it being 15 years ago."
His time at Auburn helped foster a commitment to serve the greater good, says Maloney, who was recently profiled in the NCAA's After the Game series about former student-athletes.
"I think Auburn is very much a community, and often times the underdog," Maloney says. "And that sense of family and being the underdog permeates through the culture of The Decathlon, and the culture that we create in each of the communities or markets where we bring the event.
"There's a lot of Auburn in the spirit of the Decathlon, and I'm proud of that."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer
To find similar stories and a career center for former NCAA student-athletes, visit NCAA After the GameTM at www.ncaa.org/formerstudentathlete.