College of Business Dean Greg Mosier is a tall man. At well over six feet, Mosier rarely has to look up whenever he speaks to someone.
Last week, however, when three University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack football players stood with Mosier in the College of Business’ E.L. Cord Student Success Center, Mosier was amazed by the difference in height. Senior quarterback Colin Kaepernick stands 6 foot 6 and 225 pounds and senior offensive lineman John Bender checks in at 6-8, 325.
“I’ll tell you, they do make an impact in terms of size,” Mosier said later, with a chuckle. “You don’t quite appreciate how big some of these young men really are.”
Mosier, though, was quick to point out his appreciation for what Kaepernick, Bender and their teammate, senior linebacker Kevin Grimes, had accomplished. In four and a half years, all three had graduated from the College of Business.
On Dec. 4, when the University held its Winter 2010 Commencement Ceremony in Lawlor Events Center, the Wolf Pack football team was more than 1,900 miles away in Ruston, La., putting the finishing touches on an historic season. That day the 13th-ranked Wolf Pack beat Louisiana Tech to win the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) regular season championship.
The day got Mosier thinking. What a shame, he thought, that three newly minted College of Business graduates weren’t in Reno to wear the academic regalia, receive their college degrees and the coveted medallion presented by Mosier to all of his college’s graduates.
“They weren’t going to be able to get the recognition that we give all of our students on that special day,” Mosier said. “So, we started thinking that it would be a nice thing to recognize Colin, John and Kevin and give them an opportunity to get the medallion that we give all of our graduating seniors.”
So on Monday, Dec. 13, Kaepernick, Bender and Grimes were given their College of Business graduation medallions, complete with the college’s “flame of knowledge.”
Grimes, from nearby Grass Valley, Calif., said the event and the words spoken by Mosier about he and his teammates’ accomplishment meant a lot.
“I think originally at the beginning of the year when we heard we wouldn’t be able to go to our own graduation, I think we were all pretty bummed,” he said. “All of a sudden, though, when we realized that we were graduating on the same day that we could win a WAC championship, for us it was nothing but smiles.”
Kaepernick added that the timing, actually, couldn’t have been better. In a season full of milestones, he said, why not celebrate two important ones on the same day, Dec. 4?
“For the three of us, John, Kevin and myself, it was five years that really came down to that one game at Louisiana Tech,” said Kaepernick, who owns practically every Nevada passing record and who finished eighth in this year’s Heisman Trophy balloting. “At the same time, those five years came down to that one day for graduation for us as well. That was definitely a big game for us. We became WAC champions and we graduated from the University on the same day.”
Bender said his time in the College Business had been a perfect mix of meeting new people and acquiring new knowledge. He said it didn’t hurt that his friendship with Grimes and Kaepernick grew all the more stronger through the many business courses the three student-athletes took together.
“It was great having Kevin and Colin in the same classes,” he said. “Colin and I are business management majors. We’ve had a lot of classes together over the years.”
He said he was always surprised when it came time to pick students for group project work. For some reason, he and Kaepernick were invariably the last ones picked.
“When it was group project picking time, everybody would look around the room and seem to want to avoid us,” he said with a laugh. “But I enjoyed working together with people. I learned a lot from all of my classes. I’ve learned so many different aspects, so many different tactics and philosophies, from studying business. I’d love to own my own business someday, and I think my preparation here has been excellent.”
Grimes, who plans on entering the banking field, agreed.
“I originally came to the University as an engineering major, but I found out pretty quickly it wasn’t for me,” he said. “Engineering is a great program, with unbelievably smart people, but I just did not fit the mold. I’m a business guy.
“The College of Business has been absolutely amazing. I heard nothing but good things before I came into the program. My professors have been amazing. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Grimes also had high praise for Robyn Davis, the college’s coordinator of advising, recruitment and retention.
“She’s been an absolute blessing,” Grimes said. “Anytime you call an advisor in the college, they’re so quick to help you. You come out of high school and you walk into this huge university and you have no idea what you’re doing, what classes to take, what path to pursue. If it wasn’t for the great advisors like Robyn Davis, you’d have a lot of lost students running around this campus, not getting out in time.”
Davis said she was proud of Kaepernick, Bender and Grimes’ accomplishment.
“I know that these guys are very special,” she said. “They’ve worked really, really hard to get here today. The business major is not an easy major. There are a lot of math classes, a lot of really time-consuming and challenging classes. And these guys managed to be both outstanding athletes and outstanding students. They have earned those medallions and they deserve this recognition.”
Grimes said the magnitude of his senior year, from a surprising home victory over Cal-Berkeley to a road victory over BYU to the Pack’s stunning 34-31 win over third-ranked Boise State to the 12-1 regular season record and WAC championship, plus graduation mixed in like the perfect seasoning to a near-perfect season, was something he would never forget.
“I think it’s really going to hit me 10 or 15 years down the road,” he said. “That’s when you look back and understand what an impact we had, how great of an opportunity we had, and how we were able to capture it. It’s just been an absolute blast.
“I’ve really had the best of both worlds during my time at Nevada.”