Sixteen years later, ex-UM football player Chad Wilson earns his degree
by Jorge Milian
Among the 49 current and former UM athletes going through graduation ceremonies last week was Chad Wilson.
Nothing odd about that except that Wilson received his bachelor’s degree in business management a few days shy of turning 39.
“Nothing like being dressed up in your cap and gown with gray hair sitting next to some 22-year-old,” said Wilson, a cornerback from 1992-94 under the Dennis Erickson-coached Hurricanes.
Before returning to school last year, Wilson last attended a class at UM in 1995. Since then, Wilson had started a family, opened a small business and gotten into coaching.
“I already had a very busy schedule,” Wilson said. “I have three kids, I’m a dad and I’m a husband, I have a business and I’m also a football coach. It was very difficult for me to juggle those things. Adding school to it was extra difficult. It was a tremendous sacrifice.”
But Wilson thought it was well worth it because of the children – step-daughter Damianis Eusebio, 17, and sons Quincy, 14, and Marco, 12 – he shares with his wife, Carmen.
“I’m stressing education to them,” Wilson said. “I wanted to be able to say to them, ‘Hey look, I have my degree. Now you guys get to where I am and go beyond.’”
Wilson thought of returning to school to complete his degree – he was 18 credits short –five years ago. But he thought better of it after learning that each credit at UM would cost him $1,100.
“I was already getting by without the degree so laying out $20,000 wasn’t the best idea,” Wilson said.
But a former Hurricanes’ teammate, Gerard Daphnis, told Wilson about a UM program in which the school’s athletic department picks up tuition if a former athlete is close to obtaining a degree.
Wilson jumped at the chance and began classes last summer.
The first day in class Wilson starkly realized the age gap between he and his fellow students. The professor displayed a picture of an Atari video computer system, which had the computer entertainment market cornered in the 1970s and early ‘80s.
“He said, ‘I know none of you are old enough to remember what this is,’” Wilson recalled. “I raised my hand up and was like, ‘Not everybody.’”
Wilson is one of the sharpest young men I’ve met in my 17 years on the UM beat so I can assure you his falling short of a degree during his playing days wasn’t about smarts or effort. Instead, Wilson was a victim of circumstances.
Wilson, who grew up in Pembroke Pines before moving to California in high school, played his two seasons of college football at Long Beach State. When Wilson transferred following his freshman season, UM declined to accept 30 credits he earned at Long Beach. Later, Wilson lost 18 more credits when he switched majors.
“I was sitting there with 120 credits, more than enough to graduate,” said Wilson, who started 13 games in two seasons for UM and was a second-team All-Big East selection in 1994. “But I hadn’t completed all the required courses in business. I had all these classes, all these credits. It would have been silly for me not to finish.”
Not that it was easy. To graduate, Wilson had to pass a mind-bending statistics course. He took the prerequisite 15 years ago.
Being an old head, Wilson didn’t panic. In fact, he served as something of a mentor to his classmates, many who were nearly young enough to be his children.
“It felt good to offer to advice to kids who are going where I’ve already been,” Wilson said.
Wilson has plenty of experience in working with young people. He’s been the defensive coordinator at University School in Davie for four seasons. Last year, University School reached the state 2B championship game before losing 56-55 in triple overtime.
Wilson also is the owner of Gridironstuds.com, a website that allows youth and high school football players to create a profile and add highlight videos that can be viewed by college recruiters.
So Wilson wears a lot of hats. Husband. Dad. Coach. Business owner. And now, college graduate.
“I had to finish what I started,” Wilson said.
Author: Chad Wilson
Chad Wilson is a college football recruiting expert and creator of the GridironStudsApp which allows high school football players to gain exposure to college football coaches and fans. Wilson is a former college football player for the University of Miami (92-94) and Long Beach St. (’90-’91) and played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks (’95). He is also a former youth and high school football coach for over 15 years. Wilson’s older son Quincy plays in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts and his younger son plays cornerback for the University of Florida. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.