As strange as it is, just yesterday, looking for a bike on the Felt website, i learned about Amanda Nauman, who got a Masters Degree in engineering and is a top triathlete and cyclocross racer; she managed to end 13th at the US national elite cyclocross last year for her first participation. Her next goal is to end in the top 10. Full time she's project manager at Felt Bicycles, hopefully using her engineering skills to improve her bike in the process. http://www.feltbicycles.com/blog/?p=3934
Although not listed in this article, I can name a very visible engineering graduate in a big money pro sport: Andrew Luck. He has a Stanford engineering degree in Architecural Design. There are others, but this one came to mind quickly since I am a Colts fan!
Notice that none of the 'pro athletes' are in the big money sports. If you are good at baseball, basketball, or football and want to play at colleges that feed the pros, engineering degrees are out of the question. Playing football at Cal Tech does not qualify.
I am reminded of a book that I read while in engineering school titled "Meat on the Hoof". As I recall (it was a long time ago), the writer originally wanted to be an engineer. In one of his freshmen classes, the professor asked all of the football players to stand up. He did. The professor then told him to find another major because he would flunk out of engineering. The writer complied and the rest of the book was about the horrors of college football. It was a pretty depressing book as I recall...
Still, an expensive engineering education seems like a waste in the end, even from their perspective, if sports is the path chosen. But I think for those whose careers are ended by injury, engineering could be a great option if they can pick it up again.
Well apparently that is the case with most of the people included here. Note though that Johnny Heineken (windsailing) and Ron Hickman (bowling) have combined an engineering career with their chosen sport.