Dec. 15, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Eight members of the 2012 Spartan football team participated in fall commencement ceremonies, conducted Saturday, Dec. 15 on the Michigan State University campus: Johnny Adams (sociology), Peter Badovinac (general management), Dan Conroy (communication), Steve Gardiner (packaging), Tyler Hoover (studio art), Chris McDonald (interdisciplinary studies in social science - human resources and society), Ethan Ruhland (human biology) and Mitchell White (interdisciplinary studies in social science - human resources and society). In addition, three former players who were medically disqualified to participate this season earned their undergraduate degrees: Zac Hueter (economics), Arthur Ray Jr. (communication) and Drew Stevens (criminal justice).
All of the players were on hand for a special recognition ceremony at the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Center on Friday afternoon and posed for a group picture in the lobby.
"This is really an end of era for these guys," said Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, who greeted his players and their parents at the reception. "They came in with high expectations academically and athletically. They're now going into the next phase of their lives, and that's exciting because when you finish one phase, there's opportunity in the next phase as well.
"Todd Edwards, Elliott Daniels and Mandy Chandler do a great job with our players. It really shows that if you just endure and keep pushing through all of the tough times, you're going to come out on the back end as a graduate of Michigan State University."
"It's an amazing accomplishment," said four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection Ethan Ruhland. "With my chosen field in human biology, I had a lot of classes that could have easily conflicted with practice, but the staff here really did all they could to ensure my schedule worked out. I can't thank them enough for all their help."
"It's a real good feeling," said Ray, who was a member of Dantonio's first recruiting class in February 2007, but began chemotherapy two months later to treat a cancerous tumor located in his left leg and missed nearly the entire 2007-08 academic year. "When you're dealing with a lot of negativity, you have to bottle that in and use it positive for you. Whether it was using that negativity in the weight room to push me to go stronger, or in the classroom to push me harder to things I could accomplish. That's what got me over the hump.
"Mandy, Elliott and Todd have all been great. Walking in here a semester later than I was going to because of my surgeries and going through chemo, they've been on top of me since I got here and they definitely helped me get to this point."
From his first day on the job, Dantonio has pledged to support student-athletes as they pursue excellence, both in the classroom and on the playing field. In his first five seasons, nearly 80 percent (72 of 91) of his Michigan State players who have completed their eligibility have earned their undergraduate degrees. This fall, 14 Spartans were named Academic All-Big Ten, the most during Dantonio's tenure, including two second-team Academic All-Americans, in linebacker Max Bullough and Mike Sadler.