Former OSU Football Player Gets Degree 20 Years Later

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - More than 20 years after playing in his last football game for Ohio State, Ernie Andria got his college degree.

He was one of 1,573 students to get his diploma Friday at winter commencement at St. John Arena.

Andria's family watched from the stands.

"They can't believe it," he said.

Andria was on the last Ohio State team to finish the regular season undefeated and started at guard in the Buckeyes' 1980 Rose Bowl loss to Southern California.

Then he dropped out of Ohio State to pursue a pro career. When that didn't work out, he got involved volunteering as a high school football coach and speaking to young people about the importance of education.

"All of a sudden it occurred to me one day that I was a hypocrite, that I didn't even have my degree," Andria said. "I was out there talking about setting goals and striving, and I thought, 'Heck, you didn't even finish.'"

Andria was only five classes short of graduating when he left school. He hopes to pursue a career as a high school athletic director with his degree -- a bachelor's in education.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)