LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - University of Louisville basketball players Russ Smith and Tia Gibbs have heard their names called at the KFC Yum! Center hundreds of times, but on graduation day, it took on a whole different meaning.
Gibbs, who finished her sixth year of eligibility because of multiple injuries, was able to earn her master's degree in business administration. This was actually her second time walking across the graduation stage at the arena she called home during her college basketball career.
"It's a completely different work ethic involved in getting your master's," said Gibbs, "but just being able to do it while playing basketball, you know, walking across the stage with my degree in the Yum! Center, it's amazing."
When their four years of eligibility are up, some student athletes are still a couple of credits shy of graduating, but one former Card proved on Saturday that it's never too late to achieve that goal.
Former UofL forward Herb Crook was a member of the 1986 National Championship team, but he didn't have his degree in hand when he left the school in 1988. Not only did he return to school, he graduated magna cum laude on Saturday.
"I knew when I decided to come back to school, I was going to put 100 percent into it, and it paid off well," said Crook. "Graduating with honors, I'm very proud of that."
"It's a great example that he's setting," said Herb's wife Lori Crook. "It's never too late to go back and finish [a degree]."