Student Achievement

Don Nelson, Basketball Hall of Fame Coach, Earns Phys. Ed. Degree

By Bryan Toporek — May 14, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Don Nelson, the winningest coach in professional basketball history, now has another accomplishment to add to his mantelpiece: college graduate.

Nelson, who turns 72 on Tuesday, returned to the University of Iowa this past weekend to receive his bachelor’s degree in physical education.

Nelson left the school for the NBA draft in 1962, despite being only eight credits and a student-teaching requirement short of earning his degree, according to the Associated Press.

Fifty years and 1,355 coaching wins later, he came back to finish what he started.

Nelson initially took six of his missing eight credits in Spanish while playing as a member of the Boston Celtics in the 1960s and 1970s, and finished the rest while coaching the Golden State Warriors in the 2000s. Still, Nelson needed to fulfill that pesky student-teaching requirement before earning his degree.

“I said, ‘Well, it’s hard for me to do because my job is a 12-month job and I can’t get away to go to some high school and do that,’” Nelson told the AP.

After retiring following the 2010-11 season, Nelson decided to go back and finish his degree, no matter what it took. By that point, Iowa decided that his 30-year stint on the NBA sidelines should suffice for his student-teaching requirement.

And thus, this past Saturday, Nelson walked across the stage as a college graduate. He credited another future Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Shaquille O’Neal, for inspiration to go back and finish his degree. (Shaq wrapped up his doctoral degree in education two weekends ago.)

It’s been a heck of a year for Nelson, who was announced earlier this year as a member of this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame class.

When asked if any more school was in his future, Nelson replied, “No, I’m done,” according to the AP.

“I do have a Ph.D. already—in basketball,” he said.

Former NBA coach Don Nelson smiles before receiving his diploma during a commencement ceremony at the University of Iowa on May 12 in Iowa City, Iowa. Nelson, a former Iowa men’s basketball player, NBA world champion and all-time winningest coach, left Iowa in 1962 just 10 credits short of getting his degree. Nelson received his bachelor’s degree in physical education Saturday after fulfilling course credits by taking correspondence courses. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Achievement Schools Straddle the Pandemic and Familiar Headwinds in Quest to Boost Quality
The latest Quality Counts summative grades show stubbornly average performance by the nation's schools overall, despite pockets of promise.
1 min read
Illustration of C letter grade
Getty
Student Achievement Spotlight Spotlight on Learning Gaps
In this Spotlight, analyze where learners – and educators – are in their learning process; see what other leaders are planning, and more.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Whitepaper
The Tutoring Solution: Exclusive Survey Findings
A white paper commissioned by Kelly Education and published by the EdWeek Research Center finds that parents and educators alike are on b...
Content provided by Kelly Education
Student Achievement Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Student Achievement?
Quiz Yourself: How is your district doing with student achievement?