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Friday, Jan. 18, 2013

Shaq stresses value of education

AP

GRAPEVINE, Texas — After being introduced to the NCAA convention as Dr. Shaquille O'Neal, the four-time NBA champion jokingly asked that his scholarly resume be repeated before he opened with a public confession to the group's president.

"From 1989-92 I committed numerous NCAA infractions," O'Neal said, referencing his time as an LSU player. "I used to get a free bowl of jambalaya right before every game."

NCAA President Mark Emmert laughed, saying that the statute of limitations had run out on that.

That was the start of a more than 30-minute question-and-answer session Emmert conducted with O'Neal during the keynote luncheon Wednesday on the opening day of the NCAA convention.

O'Neal said earning his doctoral degree in education, which he received last May from Barry College in Florida, was harder than anything he ever did athletically. He also talked about the importance of education, saying in the age of one-and-done basketball players that they should have to stay in school at least three years before going pro, such as the rule for NCAA football players.

"A lot of guys do it because of their financial situation and they need to do it. That's the only way to provide a better means for their family. So when you look at it from that aspect, I understand it," said O'Neal, who then told Emmert that if up to him the rule would "probably say three-and-done."

For players who do leave early, O'Neal's advice is to make sure they go back and finish their education. He said it's not a matter of how much money they will make, but how much they're going to keep.

O'Neal, who called his three years as an LSU player the best time of his life, recalled spending "$1 million in about 30 minutes" after he got his first check as the NBA's first overall pick in 1992. He quickly realized he wasn't as smart as he thought about money despite a few business and accounting classes.



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