From NFL pro to SIU grad:Baltimore Raven finishes school

By Gus Bode

Bart Scott isn’t the type to walk away.

After finishing his Saluki playing career in 2001, Scott entered the National Football League without completing his degree.

But he came back.


Scott, a fourth-year linebacker and special teams standout for the Baltimore Ravens, decided to balance his new celebrity fame with school work in order to finish his degree.

After two online classes in 2005 and an entire semester on campus in the spring of 2003, Scott completed the requirements necessary for a degree in economics and graduated in May of 2005.

He said many around him questioned why he considered finishing school. But for Scott, the only towel he will throw in is a sweat-drenched linen into the Ravens’ laundry cart.

“They said, ‘Why are you going back?'” Scott said. “‘You already have a great career. You’ll probably never use the degree.’ (But) I don’t want to start a habit. I never quit.”

For Scott, he said not finishing his degree was never an option. There was more to life than the glamour and the glitz.

Jerry Kill, the SIU head football who began his career here during Scott’s senior season, played a role in his return to the classroom. Scott had fallout with the coaching staff before Kill’s arrival, but Kill didn’t hold that against him.

He saw more than a competitor in Scott. Kill saw a young man making good on a promise.


“Everybody else worries about the wins and losses,” Kill said. “And that’s why we get fired as coaches. But that doesn’t mean a damn to any of us. We love kids. And we love seeing those kids become young men and become successful.”

Scott’s success stretches further than his newly acquired degree. Despite the spat with the former coaching staff that shortened his junior year to a four-game season, Scott still ranks fifth all-time in tackles at SIU with 352. He recorded 48 tackles in his first three years with the Ravens, playing in every game his first two years.

Fame followed as Scott proved himself on the field as both a linebacker and staple on the Ravens’ special teams unit. Outside of Maryland, though, it wasn’t the same. Scott said that while he was on campus, many younger students couldn’t tell who he was.

That was fine by Scott, who didn’t even tell others who he was.

“I didn’t tell my professors what I did,” Scott said. “I didn’t want special treatment. I didn’t want to be Bart Scott the NFL player. I wanted to be Bart Scott the student.”

Being the player and the student at the same time inspired those around him. While on campus, Scott shadowed the football program, talking to the current players and training at the University’s facilities.

Scott said if there was one person he inspired, he did his job.

Others around him took notice. Thomas Laing, who was a redshirt freshman while Scott was a senior, said his decision has left an impact on him.

“You never forget where you come from,” Laing said. “It’s great that he went to the NFL and came back to get his degree at his alma matter. A lot of people don’t do that. A lot of people go to other schools. That right there, that says a lot.”

Scott’s commitment to finishing his education in Carbondale didn’t only benefit him. Kill said that his former linebacker has had a positive impact on the entire football program.

“He promised his family he’d get an education, and he’s done that,” Kill said. “Bart’s a special young man, and he’s done a lot for our program. He’s done a lot to helping us get where we’re at.”

Scott knows there is life after the NFL, which is why he finished his degree. Scott is hoping that a successful run in the commercial real estate industry will help further provide for his four-month-old son Bartholomew and wife Darnesha.

“There’s a lot more for me to live after football,” Scott said. “After football is done, what am I going to do? Sit on my butt? That’d be boring.”

Reporter Jordan Wilson can be reached at [email protected]