BATON ROUGE - Twenty-five LSU student-athletes representing 10 Tiger sports were among those who earned their degrees Friday as part of commencement ceremonies on campus.
"We, in the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes, are extremely proud of our graduates," Kenneth O. Miles, ACSA Executive Director, said. "This milestone is the first chapter to establishing academic success and achievement as normalcy. It is our expectation that all who enter the doors become a LSU graduate and a great ambassador of this flagship institution."
Former football player Eric Alexander and former men's basketball player Stanley Roberts returned to school to complete their degrees after professional careers in the NFL and NBA, respectively. Alexander received his degree in interdisciplinary studies, while Roberts completed his course work in sport administration.
Alexander started all 14 games at linebacker for the Tigers during the 2003 National Championship season. He ranked fourth on the squad with 65 tackles and turned in a solid all-around effort with six stops highlighted by 1.5 sacks against Georgia during the SEC Championship Game. The Port Arthur, Texas, native also recorded eight tackles against Oklahoma in the BCS title game. During his seven-year NFL career, Alexander won a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots.
Roberts, an All-SEC Third-Team selection, averaged 14.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game during the 1989-90 campaign. One of his most memorable performances came as part of a 10-for-10 shooting effort in LSU's 148-141 overtime victory over Loyola Marymount. An in-focus piece on Roberts' graduation journey is available on LSUsports.net. His NBA career spanned eight seasons mostly with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Football led the way with nine total graduates, including a trio of starters in Josh Dworaczyk (sport administration), P.J. Lonergan (management) and Kevin Minter (sport administration). Minter, one of five Butkus Award finalists, racked up a team-leading 111 tackles this season. He registered 20 tackles which included a school-record 17 solo stops during the Florida game. The 20 tackles also were the second-highest total in school history for a single game. The Dworaczyk-Lonergan duo has combined to start 72 games on LSU's offensive line. Dworaczyk also earned his general studies degree in May 2011.
The track and field program checked in with four graduates. On the men's side, Ade Alleyne-Forte (sociology) was a five-time All-American and three-time All-SEC selection. He helped continue LSU's tradition of excellence in the 4x400-meter relay. The Trinidad native finished as an NCAA Outdoor silver medalist in 2011 and won a bronze medal representing his native country en route to a national record of 2:59.40 in the 2012 Olympic final.
Rebecca Alexander (interdisciplinary studies) headlined the women's side as a five-time All-American and All-SEC performer. Her career was highly decorated as a four-time SEC and two-time NCAA champion. She captured a pair of NCAA relay titles in the 4x100-meter outdoor in 2011 and the 4x400-meter indoor in 2012.
Carlie Banks (kinesiology), Natalie Ieyoub (international studies) and Kellie Murphy (kinesiology) represented the soccer program at graduation. Ieyoub has garnered multiple SEC Academic Honor Roll and Community Service Team selections over her career. The Tigers won a pair of SEC Western Division titles and made two NCAA Tournament appearances over her four-year career.
Softball had a pair of student-athletes graduate from its 2012 Women's College World Series team in Ashley Langoni (sport administration) and Heidi Pizer (elementary education). Langoni was LSU's triple crown winner as she led the Tigers in batting average, home runs and RBIs in 2012. She finished her career with 29 homers and 132 RBIs, among the top seven in program history.
Men's tennis had Mark Bowtell (sport administration) and Neal Skupski (interdisciplinary studies) graduate. Skupski ended his career as a three-time All-American with two doubles honors and one selection in singles. He also secured four All-SEC honors and notched over 150 career victories between singles and doubles. On the women's side, Olivia Howlett (sport administration) secured a team-high 20 singles wins last season and was named SEC Player of the Week after she led LSU to an upset victory over then-No. 12 Tennessee.
Simon Diefenthal (general business) and Steffen Voelkel (general business) helped guide the men's swimming and diving program to a fifth-place finish at the SEC Championships in 2011-12. Diefenthal ended his LSU career with the program's second fastest 200 back mark (1:44.95) and the fourth lowest 100 back time (48.11).
Courtney Jones (sport administration) from women's basketball finished her career with 830 points and 542 rebounds, which ranks 20th in program history. Jones came away with career-high 8.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game during her senior season. She poured in a team-leading 18 points during LSU's upset victory over Kentucky in the semifinals of the 2012 SEC Tournament.
Below is the complete list of graduates, their sport and their field of study:
Human Sciences & Education (10)
Carlie Banks, Soccer, Kinesiology
Mark Bowtell, Men's Tennis, Sport Administration
Josh Dworaczyk, Football, Sport Administration
Olivia Howlett, Women's Tennis, Sport Administration
Courtney Jones, Women's Basketball, Sport Administration
Ashley Langoni, Softball, Sport Administration
Kevin Minter, Football, Sport Administration
Kellie Murphy, Soccer, Kinesiology
Heidi Pizer, Softball, Elementary Education
Stanley Roberts, Men's Basketball, Sport Administration
Humanities & Social Sciences (9)
Chancey Aghayere, Football, Interdisciplinary Studies
Eric Alexander, Football, Interdisciplinary Studies
Rebecca Alexander, Women's Track and Field, Interdisciplinary Studies
Ade Alleyne-Forte, Men's Track and Field, Sociology
Matt Branch, Football, Interdisciplinary Studies
Natalie Ieyoub, Women's Soccer, International Studies
Edwin Johnson, Football, Philosophy
Russell Shepard, Football, Interdisciplinary Studies
Neal Skupski, Men's Tennis, Interdisciplinary Studies
P.J. Lonergan, Football, Management
Nick Rice, Football, Finance
Paras Shah, Men's Track and Field, International Trade and Finance
Simon Diefenthal, Men's Swimming and Diving, General Business
Steffen Voelkel, Men's Swimming and Diving, General Business
Phillip Thomas, Men's Track and Field, Construction Management