Bahn: Former Razorback Jonathon Modica Earns Doctorate, Provides Inspiration For Athletes

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, May. 17, 2011 11:45 am  

Former Arkansas basketball player Jonathon Modica recently received his doctorate in higher education from the College of Education and Health Professions. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

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Admiration for Modica is widespread on the Arkansas campus. What he’s accomplished is highly regarded in athletic and academic circles.

Shortly after his final college game Modica realized his basketball career was over. It was — and this is a rarity for a lot of athletes — purely his choice. Modica probably had five or 10 more years of basketball ahead of him in Europe if he chose that path, but he decided to stop playing and focus on his academic career.

Modica is an inspiration. He is the reason you shouldn’t roll your eyes when somebody brings up the term “student-athlete.” That notion doesn’t just exist in a conference room. It’s not limited to minor and non-revenue-producing sports.

Athletic Director Jeff Long wasn’t on campus when Modica played. But Long is aware of what Modica has accomplished and what a great ambassador Modica can be for the University of Arkansas.

“We need more Jonathon Modica’s to come through our program,” Long said. “We need more young people who accept the challenge to be great at both athletics and academics. He’s a great example. He wasn’t satisfied and kept trying to achieve more. … He could have banged around in Europe for a few years, made a little money. Then what? He chose to further himself and set himself up for a career.”

Modica, of course, didn’t begin the process for admiration or public recognition. He got enough of that through basketball and his pursuit of learning, the process of getting a doctorate was purely about education. Now Modica turns his attention to finding a job. He wants to work in a university setting in development and fundraising. Gearhart expressed a hope in the UA keeping Modica around, an option the former Razorback star would be happy to do.

“It feels good to have reached this point and time in my life,” Modica said. “It means so much to me because of the love that I have for the University of Arkansas. I didn’t do any of this for attention.”

Providing inspiration is something Modica is happy to do, though. He hopes that others will see the end of an athletic career is just the beginning.



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