Spears claimed to have master's degree
GRAMBLING, La. -- Grambling football coach Melvin Spears' graduate school transcript indicates he never received the master's degree mentioned on his resume, and he's been given a week to straighten out the discrepancy.
Grambling President Horace Judson said he has confirmed Spears never received his master's from Northern Arizona, but added that Spears maintained to him that he had completed the necessary work.
"I've spoken with coach Spears and he insists there is an error that he can clarify," Judson said in a prepared statement. "He's heading out to Northern Arizona to deal with the issue. I've given him one week to verify and validate that he has an earned master's degree from Northern Arizona University."
Grambling athletics spokesman Peter Forest said Friday that Spears was not available. Forest said he could not comment on the situation beyond the statement he released from Judson.
Forest said he was not sure when Spears planned to leave for Arizona.
"I haven't seen him," Forest said.
Spears was the Tigers' offensive coordinator under former Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams, who after last season took a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the NFL teams for which he played.
Spears was very popular among players, who pushed for him to be named interim head coach.
His resume says he has a master's in administrative leadership. On Friday, an official in Northern Arizona's transcript department said Spears was enrolled from early 1994 to mid 1997, but was never awarded his master's. She declined to say how many of the program's required 36 credit hours Spears completed, citing privacy policies.
In 2001, George O'Leary had a similar problem when he was hired away from Georgia Tech by Notre Dame. Revelations that O'Leary had lied about having a master's degree prevented him from coaching a game for the Irish. He didn't get back into college football until this year, when Central Florida hired him as head coach following his two-year stint as an assistant in the NFL.
Judson said he could not speculate about what would happen if Spears failed to produce proof he had earned the degree.
"It's critically important that all information on applications for employment at this institution be accurate and we take we take all matters that pertain to the integrity of every aspect of this institution very seriously," Judson said.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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