Coach did earn his master's degree

Updated: July 10, 2004, 3:31 PM ET
Associated Press

GRAMBLING, La. -- Grambling's football coach earned the master's degree listed on his resume but failed to fill out minor paperwork to officially receive a diploma, an official at Northern Arizona University said.

Coach Melvin Spears was in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Friday to complete the paperwork so his resume will match official records at Northern Arizona, where he completed coursework for the degree in 1997, said William Wright, chair of Northern Arizona's department of research, foundations and leadership.

Wright called the discrepancy between Spears' resume and the school's records "just an unfortunate misunderstanding."

Spears headed to Arizona after Grambling president Horace Judson gave him one week to clear up the discrepancy between his resume and Northern Arizona academic records.

Spears remained in Arizona Saturday and neither he nor Judson would comment until Spears returns to Grambling, Grambling athletics spokesman Peter Forest said.

Spears was hired as offensive coordinator by Grambling coach Doug Williams in 1997, then took over as interim head coach when Williams left for the NFL in February. Spears resume includes a master's in administrative leadership, part of which he studied for under Wright.

Wright said two big distractions occurred for Spears soon after finishing his coursework: his grandfather died and he got the Grambling coaching job under Williams.

"Its not uncommon that someone would complete their degree requirements but not follow through with the necessary paperwork," Wright said. "In Spears' case, a person gets a promotion, there is illness in the family. Hes a good man -- a good moral person. This was just a matter of paperwork."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press