Shaquille O'Neal, Barry University Student, Is Not Actually Doing a Dissertation

Former superstar basketball center and current TNT mumbling head Shaquille O'Neal has told Jon Stewart, the New York Times, and ESPN that he's getting his doctorate at Miami's Barry University, where he defended his dissertation this month. His purported title? "How Leaders Utilize Humor or Aggression in Leadership Styles."

Unfortunately, we've learned Shaq is not actually defending a traditional dissertation. Which is very disappointing for one reason: Dissertations are peer-reviewed and publicly available. And we already know from Shaq's Miami Beach Police application -- on which he listed "Laptop computer, binnochulars, master of surveillance" under special skills-- that his writing style is incredible. We were really looking forward to dissecting Dr. O'Neal's academic argument.

But alas, Shaq is getting not a PhD but a Ed.D., in Leadership in Education with a specialization in Human Resource Development. That department's chair, Dr. David M. Kopp, tells us that instead of a dissertation, Shaq has been working on a "Capstone Project".

"You present the project findings and any reflections that you have as a student to your committee," explains Kopp. The project is not peer-reviewed.

Kopp confirms of Shaq's Capstone Project: "He is looking at humor and seriousness in leadership styles."

News outlets have reported that Shaq-- who previously got his MBA from the University of Phoenix-- has "secretly" taken courses at Barry since his NBA days. We're not exactly sure how one of the largest and most famous men in the world can go unnoticed in a moderately-sized Catholic school. 

Kopp assured us that Shaq has not gotten special treatment in taking his classes: "He's done everything a traditional student would do. He has come to classes, but we have accomodated his NBA schedule and his work schedule."

He adds: "He's a very impressive guy, very inquisitive, and it's a pleasure to have him as a student. I think the degree will serve as an example for others, and he should be very proud of himself."

On May 5, Shaq will hold a press conference about his impending graduation, according to Kopp. That will most likely be one of those trademark wacky events Shaq likes to put on.

Shaq, we know you're reading this. Don't be The Big Ivory Tower. The world wants to know the proper ratio of humor and seriousness that should be utilized when leading things. So release your Capstone Project, and let the Internet be your peer review.

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Gus Garcia-Roberts