Fifty-One Student-Athletes Earn Degrees

LSU volleyball's Desiree Elliott with coach Fran Flory
LSU volleyball's Desiree Elliott with coach Fran Flory
Steve Franz
Matt Dunaway
Matt Dunaway

BATON ROUGE – LSU had 51 student-athletes which represented 14 programs receive their degrees during Friday’s annual Spring Commencement ceremonies held on-campus.

“We, in the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes (CCACSA), are very proud of the class of 2014,” said Kenneth Miles, CCACSA Executive Director and Interim Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach. “Achieving this milestone is a tremendous accomplishment, and our graduates truly transformed the notion of what it means to be a student-athlete to what it means to be a scholar athlete. They entered to learn, and now, they must leave to serve. Congratulations to the class of 2014. Go and be the change you want to see.”

Muna Lee, one of the all-time greats from the LSU track and field program, completed her coursework in interdisciplinary studies. She played a major role as the Lady Tigers claimed four national championships sparked by three consecutive NCAA Indoor team titles from 2002-04. Lee also tied LSU’s all-time leader as a seven-time NCAA event champion and 12-time SEC event champion while earning 20 All-America honors during her collegiate career. Among Lee’s NCAA sprint titles were back-to-back indoor gold medals in the 200 meters in 2002 and 2003 and back-to-back indoor gold medals in the 60 meters in 2003 and 2004.

Lee was a two-time Olympian for the United States following her collegiate career where she placed seventh in the 200 meters in her Olympic debut in Athens, Greece, in 2004. She garnered fourth place in the 200 meters accompanied by a fifth place finish in the 100 meters in a return appearance in Beijing, China, in 2008.

LSU’s H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship nominees, baseball’s Sean McMullen and softball’s Simone Heyward, collected their degrees in kinesiology and psychology.

McMullen was named the 2013 Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) Male Scholar Athlete of the Year, the 2013 SEC Academic Honor Roll and the 2013 Spring and Fall Dean’s lists during his career. He has spent a majority of the last two seasons at the top of the batting order, and LSU has posted a 57-15 record with McMullen in the leadoff spot. He has compiled a .278 batting average and 23 of his 47 hits have gone for extra bases entering this weekend’s Auburn series. McMullen produced a .314 hitting clip, 18 doubles, two homers, 30 RBIs and scored 26 runs during LSU’s run to the 2013 Men’s College World Series.

For Heyward, the psychology degree is her second undergraduate degree. She was the 2013 recipient of the Eye of the Tiger award for overcoming adversity at the academic gala. Heyward created a support group, You Are Not Alone (YANA), after experiencing the loss of her mother to cancer where LSU student-athletes help middle and high school students cope with the loss of a loved one. Heyward has played in 184 career games, and the Tigers begin play in the NCAA Tucson Regional this weekend. She connected for a three-run double during LSU’s 3-1 victory over No. 9 Missouri in the deciding third game of the 2012 NCAA Columbia Super Regional to punch the program’s ticket to the 2012 Women’s College World Series.

The swimming and diving team led the way with 10 graduates highlighted by diver Sean McKinney and swimmer Kyra Jones. McKinney owns the program record on the three-meter springboard and earned his degree in marketing. Jones was a member of the SEC Community Service team and received her diploma in chemical engineering. Michael Saco, a 2013 and 2014 NCAA qualifier, also earned his degree in interdisciplinary studies. Three-time NCAA qualifiers Torrey Bussey and Jessica Kopcso each received degrees in sports administration.

Eight football players will take part in graduation commencement exercises which include Craig Loston who earned his degree in interdisciplinary studies. A two-year starter at safety for the Tigers, Loston finished his career with 148 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and seven interceptions. He recently signed as a free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jordan Jefferson, who led LSU to a 24-8 record as starting quarterback, earned his degree in interdisciplinary studies. Jefferson accounted for 46 touchdowns during his career from 2008-11 with 34 passing TDs and 12 rushing TDs.

The soccer team had six members graduate, and Addie Eggleston earned her degree in communication disorders. She was a 2013 SEC Community Service Team member, started in 75 career matches and wrapped up her career tied for fourth on LSU’s all-time assists list. 

Four gymnasts are set to graduate which include Lainie Fleming and Casey Duvall who both achieved Latin honors. Fleming will graduate Summa Cum Laude in microbiology, and Duvall will graduate Cum Laude in biology. Mckenzie Fox (kinesiology) and Maliah Mathis (interdisciplinary studies) also earned their degrees after being a part of a senior class that helped LSU record a third-place finish at the NCAA Super Six Finals on April 19.

All three members of the 2013-14 women’s basketball senior class received their degrees. The trio accounted for 85 career wins and a pair of NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. Theresa Plaisance and Shanece McKinney finished their careers among LSU’s Top 5 in blocked shots, while Plaisance was the 18th player in program history to amass over 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. Jeanne Kenney buried 137 career three-pointers which ranked seventh and dished out 372 career assists which checked in 10th all-time. Plaisance begins her WNBA career with the Tulsa Shock this weekend.

Volleyball’s Desiree Elliott, the 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year, became the 20th player in program history to surpass 1,000 career kills. She concluded her career with 1,182 kills and 375 total blocks. The 1,182 kills rank 13th in program history. Kaitlin Hatcher is the first graduate of the sand volleyball which recently completed its first year of competition. She teamed with Helen Boyle for 13 victories which ranked second on the squad. 

Smylie Kaufman was one of two golfers to graduate with a degree in marketing. He recently led the Tigers to a second-place team finish at the 2014 SEC Championships, the program’s best finish in the event in 25 years. Kaufman also finished second individually with an 11-under par and is the fourth golfer in the last six years to crack the Top 5 of the final leaderboard at the SEC Championships. He’s been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll on three occasions and is a two-time SEC Community Service Team pick.

Below is the complete list of graduates, their sport and their field of study:

E.J. Orso College of Business (10)
Shane Coltharp, Men’s Swimming & Diving, Finance 
Johnny Dishon, Baseball, General Business
Desiree Elliott, Volleyball, General Business
Jarrett Fobbs, Football, General Business
James Hairston, Football, Finance 
Smylie Kaufman, Men’s Golf, Marketing
Sean McKinney, Men’s Swimming & Diving, Marketing
Michelle Mobley, Women’s Track & Field, Marketing
Emily Weaner, Women’s Swimming & Diving, General Business
William Wiesler, Men’s Track & Field, General Business 

College of Science (2)
Casey Duvall, Gymnastics, Biology
Lainie Fleming, Gymnastics, Microbiology

College of Agriculture (2)
A'Trey-U Jones, Football, Agricultural Business
Jasmin Stowers, Women’s Track & Field, Nutrition & Food Science

College of Engineering (1)
Kyra Jones, Women’s Swimming & Diving, Chemical Engineering

Manship School of Mass Communication (1)
Laura Furr, Women’s Swimming & Diving, Mass Communication

College of Human Sciences & Education (24)
Nina Anderson, Soccer, Sports Administration
Jacee Blades, Softball, Kinesiology
Kadron Boone, Football, Sports Administration
Torrey Bussey, Women’s Swimming & Diving, Sports Administration
Jodi Calloway, Soccer, Sports Administration
Emily Cancienne, Soccer, Sports Administration
Alex Edward, Baseball, Sports Administration 
Rachele Fico, Softball, Sports Administration
Mckenzie Fox, Gymnastics, Kinesiology
Nate Fury, Baseball, Sports Administration
Parker Glass, Women’s Swimming & Diving, Elementary Education
Karen Henning, Women’s Track & Field, Kinesiology
Denise Hinton, Women’s Track & Field, Kinesiology
Jaora Johnson, Men’s Track & Field, Kinesiology
Jeanne Kenney, Women’s Basketball, Kinesiology
Jessica Kopcso, Women’s Swimming & Diving, Sports Administration
Shanece McKinney, Women’s Basketball, Sports Administration
Shannon McLain, Soccer, Sports Administration
Nicole McLaughlin, Soccer, Kinesiology
Sean McMullen, Baseball, Kinesiology
Theresa Plaisance, Women’s Basketball, Sports Administration
Stephen Rivers, Football, Sports Administration
Annie Simoneaux, Women’s Track & Field, Kinesiology
Andrei Tuomola, Men’s Swimming & Diving, Sports Administration

College of Humanities & Social Sciences (11)
Addie Eggleston, Soccer, Communication Disorders
Kaitlin Hatcher, Sand Volleyball, Interdisciplinary Studies
Simone Heyward, Softball, Psychology 
Jordan Jefferson, Football, Interdisciplinary Studies
Muna Lee, Women’s Track & Field, Interdisciplinary Studies
Charlene Lipsey, Women’s Track & Field, Interdisciplinary Studies
Craig Loston, Football, Interdisciplinary Studies
Ali Lucas, Women’s Golf, Interdisciplinary Studies
Maliah Mathis, Gymnastics, Interdisciplinary Studies
Michael Petty, Football, Interdisciplinary Studies
Michael Saco, Men’s Swimming & Diving, Interdisciplinary Studies




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