MIAMI – You can call him Dr. Shaq.
Wearing a custom-made, bright red XXXL gown, NBA great Shaquille O'Neal received his doctoral degree in education from Miami's Barry University on Saturday, The Miami Herald reported.
The 7ft 1in, 325-pound O'Neal got down on one knee as Dr. David M. Kopp, the chairman of the university's Organizational Learning and Leadership program, draped a light blue hood around his neck.
O'Neal then lifted Kopp, his professor, into the air as the crowd cheered, hugged school president Sister Linda Bevilacqua and walked off stage, posing for photographs before high-fiving a row of graduates on the way back to his seat.
"We have many notable graduates among our 55,000 alumni, but I would have to say Dr. O'Neal would give new meaning to big man on campus," Bevilacqua said.
O'Neal, 40, was among 1,100 students to receive their doctorate during multiple commencement ceremonies Saturday at the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami.
The four-time NBA champion had spent the past 4 1/2 years working towards his doctoral degree in organizational learning and leadership with a specialization in human resource development.
He achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.813 while completing 54 credit hours, doing most of his course work via satellite and video conferencing.
The title of O'Neal's doctoral capstone project was "The Duality of Humor and Seriousness in Leadership Styles."