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‘I Paid’: Shaq Changed the Lives of 15 of His Friends Because He Wanted to Get His Master’s Degree His Way 

It seems basketball great and businessman Shaquille O’ Neal would spare no expense when it came to going after his master’s degree. 

Shaq wanted his classes through the business program at the University of Phoenix, which offers online programs, to take place in person, but for that to happen a certain number of students had to be enrolled. Shaq shared about this and more in a Sept. 5 interview with the “Be Better Off Show,” a podcast of Kelly+Partners on Spotify. To reach the number needed for an online class, the NBA Hall of Famer said he also paid for 15 of his friends to receive a college education.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 18: Shaquille O’Neal, Inside the NBA, Turner Sports attends the Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront 2022 arrivals on the red carpet at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery)

Education for All

The owner of a number of Papa John’s and Krispy Kreme locations told a story regarding how he felt left out of business negotiations because only his lawyers and accountants were the ones being addressed during those talks.

“I noticed that every time I’d go to a business meeting that the guys who we’re doing deals with would be like, ‘Hello Shaq, how are you doing?’ And then they would turn away and look at my lawyers and my accountants and all those guys,” Shaq said. “So, I said, ‘Oh, you guys don’t think I’m in charge. You guys don’t think I understand the lingo.’ So I went and got my master’s [degree] from the University of Phoenix.”

Shaq enrolled in the University of Phoenix’s business program and then took it upon himself to enlist friends in order to compensate for the lack of attendees that could make up an in-person class.

“University of Phoenix is an online program mostly. But I went to the head officials and said, ‘I don’t want to do it online. I want somebody to teach me in a class.’ And they came back and said, ‘Unfortunately, we can’t set up a classroom for one guy. You need 15 people. So I paid for 15 of my friends to get their masters.”

He received his MBA in 2005 from the University of Phoenix.

Call him ‘Dr. Shaq’

O’Neal has a doctoral degree in education, after being enrolled in Barry University’s Adrian Dominican School of Education. He received his doctoral degree in organizational learning and leadership with a specialization in human resource development, Finurah previously reported.

O’Neal studied at Barry University, a private Catholic university in Miami Shores, Florida, for four-and-a-half years and achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.813. Between 16 courses, he completed 54 credit hours and six credit hours of self-directed research.

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