21 Players Receive Diplomas

Twenty-one University of Miami football student-athletes were awarded their undergraduate diplomas Friday as part of Graduation Commencement ceremonies. Among the group of 21, nine football players will be completing their eligibility for the Hurricanes in the 2002 season.

Included in the group was a bachelor's of liberal arts degree conferred to former UM linebacker Chris Campbell. Campbell, who was killed in an auto accident in February, was on track to complete his undergraduate studies this semester before the accident.

The football players who graduated Friday and will compete for UM this season are: punter Freddie Capshaw (finance/marketing), offensive lineman Joe Fantigrassi (liberal arts), defensive end Jamaal Green (criminology), offensive guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli (finance), center Brett Romberg (management), receiver Ethenic Sands (liberal arts), defensive back James Scott (liberal arts), defensive end LaVaar Scott (criminology), and offensive guard Ed Wilkins (liberal arts).

Eight other student-athletes completed their UM football careers in Fall 2001 and received their undergraduate or graduate degrees on Friday: offensive guard Martin Bibla, linebacker Ken Dangerfield, fullback Najeh Davenport, cornerback Markese Fitzgerald, safety James Lewis, linebacker Michael Pinkney, offensive lineman Scott Puckett, and cornerback Mike Rumph. Four of those student-athletes (Bibla, Davenport, Lewis and Rumph) were recently selected in the NFL Draft and a fifth (Fitzgerald) was a free-agent signee.

Three more student-athletes - Darrell Arline, Clint Hurtt and Sheven Marshall - also received their degrees. All three were sidelined by career-ending injuries at UM, but completed their studies while their scholarships were honored.

The 21 graduates continues Miami's tradition of achieving a high graduation rate among its football student-athletes. Miami has received recognition by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) as one of an elite group of schools to have exceeded a 70 percent graduation rate among its football student-athletes in eight of the past 11 years. The Hurricanes' have exceeded the national graduation rate for AFCA member schools for 15 consecutive years.

From 1992-97, Miami was one of only eight schools in the nation to graduate at least 70 percent of its football student-athletes and that trend continues to the present day. Thirteen of 18 Miami football student-athletes who entered UM in 1996 have graduated, a rate of 72.2 percent - exceeding the national average of 2001 (59 percent). Since the AFCA began its national survey of graduation rages for football playing institutions, Miami has graduated 71.29 percent of its football student-athletes - far above the national average.

Ten members of Miami's 2001 National Championship team earned spots on the BIG EAST All-Academic Team - the most any team can qualify for the honor. The 2001 season marked the fourth straight year that Miami has placed the league maximum on the All-Academic Team.

The 2002 Miami football team will include 18 student-athletes in their senior seasons of eligibility. Of that total, 10 will have earned their bachelor's degrees before the season kicks off. Another five are on track to graduate in December 2002 and three more are on schedule to graduate in May 2003. Two student-athletes - defensive tackle Matt Walters and offensive lineman Jim Wilson - are on track to complete a bachelor's/master's double degree program in May of 2003.

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