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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Monday, The Ohio State University was recognized by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) for ranking second nationally in the 2006-07 academic year in former student-athletes returning and completing their undergraduate degrees.

As a member of the NCAS Degree Completion and Community Service Program (DCP), Ohio State is one of six Big Ten universities to offer its former student-athletes the opportunity to return, with tuition assistance, to finish their higher education after exhausting their athletic eligibility. In the program, each qualified returning OSU student-athlete receives tuition reimbursement for their involvement with university and community service programs.

Since the program was started at Ohio State in 1994, more than 100 former Buckeyes have come back to complete their undergrad coursework.

Recently, Ohio State graduate and former Buckeye running back Butler By’not’e, as well as current DCP students Michael Wiley and Marcus Green, formerly of the football team, and Christian Snavely, a former baseball player, all met at OSU’s state-of-the-art Younkin Academic Success Center and shared their reasons for coming back to finish their degrees.

Butler By’not’e, football and men’s track and field (1990-93)
On how earning his degree with the help of the Degree Completion Program helped him professionally after his football career ended

“I had around 45 hours to complete when I returned to Ohio State. It took me about a year and a half to complete because when I came back, I was told I could graduate with a double major in business economics and African American studies if I took 20 more hours. So, I decided to enter in the dual degree program and graduated in December 2006.

I knew coming back was something that was important for me to do and it’s had a tremendous impact on my life. Graduating is one of those things, when you finish, that gives you a sense of closure and purpose to what you were doing outside of athletics at Ohio State. It’s opened up a lot of doors and given me that piece of paper you need behind you to actually go forward and do great things outside of football.

This year was my first year as a football commentator with the Big Ten Network which was exciting because I had the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of experienced hosts. I learned a lot from them and I look forward to contributing more. Coming from Ohio State, I was used to being in the limelight and had the chance to do interviews. It’s tough now to be on the other side and be the one asking questions but it’s something I look forward to continuing.

Besides working with the Big Ten Network, I also work for a real estate development company called KBK Enterprises here in Columbus. It is one of the largest African American real estate development firms in the country. Right now we have two projects, one in Pittsburgh that is worth $69 million, and the other in New Orleans that is worth $114 million. 
 
When I first left Ohio State, the program hadn’t been started at the university. But a few years later, I heard about the Degree Completion Program by word of mouth through my teammates. I initially came back in 1998 and finished one quarter before coming back in 2006. It’s different now because the university has put some muscle behind it to alert more student-athletes of this program which is a great thing.
 
Besides playing football, I also ran track my sophomore, junior and senior year. Coach (John) Cooper had given me the option when I was being recruited to run track after I finished one season, including spring ball. It was extremely tough to be a two-sport athlete because you went straight from summer conditioning to the football season in the fall. After completing the football season and bowl game, I went straight into the training for outdoor track and right back again to football conditioning. For four years, I had somewhere to be everyday at 2:30-3 o’clock.
 
It was really good for me to come back and just be a student because I realized the importance of my education and took classes a lot more seriously than I had.”

By’not’e played with the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos of the of the National Football League. He also was a Big Ten relay champion for Ohio State track and field.

Marcus Green, football (2002-05)
On his reasons for returning to Ohio State

“I was trying to get my degree for a couple of years because the fact that I never finished was hanging over my head. Plus, my  mother she was definitely an influence on me. Both my parents have master’s degrees.

Getting a degree was always important to me and when I wasn’t able to finish up before leaving for the NFL it was a tragic situation for me. I always wanted to come back and finish up.
 
I was here five years as a student-athlete because I redshirted my freshman season so when I left, I only had four hours to complete so that’s what I’m here to do. 
 
For two years, coaches in the football program were calling me during the offseason encouraging me to come back and finish up school. I knew in the back of my mind I was going to come back because I knew I couldn’t play football forever.
 
I’ll be finishing with a degree in consumer affairs and there is a wide array of careers I would like to get into like real estate and maybe even open a restaurant, like my boy here (pointing and smiling at Wiley).”

Green last played for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. He was with the team in 2006, when Seattle played Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XV.

Christian Snavely, baseball (2001-03)
On returning to Ohio State to finish his degree after spending four seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays organization 

“I left at the end of the 2003 season, my third year at Ohio State, and played for the Toronto Blue Jays in the minors for four years. It’s very competitive in the minor leagues and you lose some of the team aspect because everyone is trying to make their own career and make a name for themselves. That was interesting to me because I came from a unified collegiate team.

I still do follow the team here and I catch a lot of my Ohio State baseball updates on OhioStateBuckeyes.com because it’s easy to jump on there and see how the team is doing. It’s a little strange for me now because all the guys I knew have already left.

As a student-athlete, I was trying to plug away and get as much of my coursework completed as possible because I didn’t know what the future held for me. When I returned I had roughly five quarters of classes left. I took some courses last fall and then played independent ball before starting again this fall. I’m glad to be finishing up and currently, I’m on track to graduate this June (with a degree in financial planning).

Education has always been important to me because every athlete’s career is going to end at some point. I decided to retire this year and come back to Ohio State to start my life after baseball. In the back of my mind, I knew I would come back to graduate I just didn’t know when.

For my volunteer hours, I work with Pat Chun in the development office at St. John Arena. He was the baseball sports information director my freshman year and he later moved into the development office. He’s a close friend so it has been a great experience to work with him. Working there is helpful for me in the fact that it offers a great opportunity to network with Buckeye fans that like to support to the athletics department.”

Snavely hit 43 home runs in four seasons of minor league ball.

Michael Wiley, football (1996-99)
On why he decided to finish his degree after playing with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys

“Initially, coming back to finish my degree (in sociology) was something I had promised my mother but I have two children now. My wife has her degree and 15 years from now, I don’t want to be sitting at the dinner table and have my children use the fact that I don’t have a degree as an excuse for them.

Right now, I’m not only doing this for myself but for my family and I only have five hours left before I graduate with a degree in sociology. 
 
Besides taking classes, I recently opened up a restaurant called After 5 in the Brewery District (in Columbus). With work, school and a family, it definitely is a balancing act. It’s tougher than I though it would be but I’ve been handling it. Plus, for my volunteer hours, I work at study tables in the computer lab and work with the football players at the Woody Hayes Athletics Center.”

Wiley’s average gain was nearly nine yards every time he touched the football with the Cowboys.

Compiled by Emily Meyer, Ohio State Athletics Communications