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Shaquille O'Neal, Ben Roethlisberger Earn Degrees in Education

RoethlisbergerGrad_Blog.jpg

Whoever said sports and academics can't get along clearly haven't met Shaquille O'Neal or Ben Roethlisberger.

In the past week, both Shaq and Roethlisberger have been awarded degrees in education, neither of which were honorary.

Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback, walked across the stage this past Sunday with classmates at the Miami University (of Ohio) School of Education, Health & Society to accept his bachelor's degree in education. Roethlisberger left Miami for the NFL four credits short of graduating back in 2003, according to USA Today, but finished up his coursework this past winter, after the Steelers were unceremoniously eliminated from the playoffs by Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.

"To me, this is just as big, if not bigger, than winning the Super Bowl," Roethlisberger said to USA Today. "This is the Super Bowl in life."

Cheesy clich├ęs aside, Roethlisberger did have to earn those final few credits by, among other things, writing a paper on Tibet. How many NFL quarterbacks have to do that in the offseason?

Shaq, meanwhile, will now be going by the name Dr. O'Neal after earning his doctoral degree in education from Barry University in Miami, Florida, this past weekend, my colleague Liana Heitin reported Monday.

Much like Roethlisberger, no one can accuse Shaq, the four-time NBA champion and future Hall-of-Famer, of not putting in the work toward the degree. Dr. O'Neal spent the past four and a half years taking 16 courses (mainly online) and six credit hours of self-directed research, maintaining a GPA of 3.813, according to the Miami Herald.

"Everyone thinks this is honorary. But this is not honorary. I put in four and a half hard years staying up late at night, studying, reading, rewriting papers..." O'Neal said, according to the paper.

What's next for the big man, besides a co-hosting job on the Emmy-winning television program Inside the NBA? Potentially law school, he said.

Hey, if he can be a 7-foot, 300-pound police officer, why can't he be a lawyer, too?

Knowing how great Shaq can be with kids, here's looking forward to the day Dr. O'Neal takes to the classroom.

Photo: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, second from right, smiles before receiving his bachelor's degree in education during a commencement ceremony at Miami University on May 6 in Oxford, Ohio. Roethlisberger played football for Miami from 2001 to 2003, setting several school passing records, and over the course of several years completed the remaining courses necessary to graduate nine years after leaving for the NFL. (Jeff Sabo/Miami University/AP)

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