University of the Cumberlands’ officials are expecting a capacity crowd Wednesday evening to hear former NBA great Shaquille O’Neal speak as the keynote speaker for the 12th Annual Excellence in Leadership Series, which is sponsored by The Forcht Group of Kentucky.
While admission to the event is free, tickets are required for entry and were snatched up quickly.
“Tickets became available at midnight on March 1, and were completely gone by noon that same day. Based on the overwhelming response, we believe our students, alumni and the community are very excited to hear what Shaquille O’Neal has to say,” said Office of University Communications Director Leslie Ryser.
Best known for his NBA career, which spanned nearly two decades and earned him membership into the NBA Hall of Fame, O’Neal has also established himself as an insightful businessman and powerful media personality.
With appearances in countless commercials, television episodes and films, along with a number of business investments in companies like Google, O’Neal was included on Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” list and was named one of the most influential athletes by Forbes. He was the first verified celebrity account on Twitter, produces his own shoe line and currently appears as an analyst on TNT’s Emmy-award winning show, ‘Inside the NBA.’
“Shaquille O’Neal is an exceptional leader, both on and off the court,” said UC President Larry Cockrum. “We are excited to have Shaq on campus to share his message of hard work and perseverance with our students.”
The event will take place starting at 7 p.m. in the O. Wayne Rollins Center.
During Wednesday’s ceremony the university also plans to recognize the families of two Kentucky police officers, who were killed in the line of duty. The Kentucky State Police Honor Guard will also take part in the event.
UC’s annual lecture series is made possible by an endowment from local business owners Dr. Terry and Mrs. Marion Forcht, who founded The Forcht Group of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Leadership in 2006.
“We’re very excited that Shaquille O’Neal is coming to speak at this event. We look forward to hearing his inspirational story,” Forcht Group Chairman Terry Forcht said previously.
The purpose of the Center is to provide programs and activities that enhance the development of leadership, character and good citizenship. Past speakers in the series have included Roy Moore, Zell Miller, Stephen Covey, Ben Stein, Karl Rove, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Charles Krauthammer, Dr. Ben Carson, Fred Thompson, and Dr. William “Will” Franklin Graham IV, the grandson of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham.