By Tim Reynolds
AP Sports Writer
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Will Smith played against Miami in the national championship game that ended the 2002 college football season, helping Ohio State win the Fiesta Bowl and deny the Hurricanes back-to-back titles.
Nonetheless, Miami is mourning him as one of its own.
Smith, the former New Orleans Saints standout, was killed in a shooting there Saturday night. He was on track to graduate from Miami this summer with a master’s degree. He was part of the inaugural class in Miami’s Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes program, an 18-month course of study that will issue degrees for the first time in July.
“He was a wonderful student, easy going, well-liked, and respected by all of his classmates, faculty, and staff,” Eugene W. Anderson, dean of the University of Miami School of Business, wrote in an email Monday to members of the school’s community.
A copy of the email was obtained by The Associated Press.
“Very intelligent man that was working hard for his family,” longtime NFL player Ryan Mundy, one of Smith’s classmates in the Miami MBA program, wrote on Twitter in reaction to Smith’s shooting.
Cardell Hayes, 28, was ordered held on $1 million bond Sunday night after police arrested him on a charge of second-degree murder.
Smith had been on Miami’s campus several times over the course of the program, which also incorporates distance-learning elements. The university said it would hold a memorial service for Smith in June, when the program is next scheduled to convene for on-campus meetings.
“Please join me in offering our love, sympathy, and strength to Will’s family, particularly his wife Racquel, whom we wish a complete and speedy recovery, and their three children in this hour of unfathomable loss,” Anderson wrote.