Pata's family members accept degree at graduation

Updated: May 12, 2007, 7:51 AM ET
Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Six months after Miami Hurricanes football player Bryan Pata was murdered, the University of Miami still cheers for him.

Pata received a posthumous degree from university President Donna Shalala at commencement exercises Friday.

Shalala presented the degree to two members of Pata's family, who held hands as they walked across the stage while the audience applauded.

"His warm, wide smile and his incredibly competitive spirit will be remembered by all who knew him," an announcer told the crowd.

John Warnecke, a Miami student who died in a car crash this year, was also awarded a posthumous degree Friday.

Pata was one of more than 700 Miami students to receive a degree at the university's ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences on Friday.

Pata, a criminology major and 280-pound defensive lineman, was fatally shot outside his apartment complex on Nov. 7.

Pata and Warnecke were mentioned during the ceremony's invocation and in Shalala's opening remarks, she spoke of the two deaths and the recent shooting on the Virginia Tech campus.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press