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Pata's family members accept degree at graduation

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.