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March Madness 2024 Round of 32: Notable Alumni

Estrela Consulting March 24, 2024

March Madness 32

It’s March Madness time! Here at Estrela, we are taking our brackets to the next level. Join us each round to learn something fun about the schools in the tournament! In the first round, we explored the mascots.

The colleges of March Madness aren't just about buzzer-beaters and bracket-busters; they're also about producing some seriously impressive alumni!  After the rollercoaster of the first round, we are back now for the round of 32 and some notable alumni from the colleges that made it through.


UCONN vs. Northwestern

The University of Connecticut has Sue Bird among its alums. Sue is an NCAA Women’s Basketball champion, WNBA legend, and Olympic Gold Medalist and graduated in 2002 with a BA in Communications. Actor David Schwimmer (Ross from Friends) graduated from Northwestern University in 1988 with a BA in Theatre and Speech. Writer and comedian Stephen Colbert was in the Northwestern class of 1986 with a BA in Communications.

San Diego State vs. Yale

Kathleen Kennedy, film producer & president of Lucasfilm, graduated from San Diego State University in 1977 with a BA Telecommunications and Film. Ellen Ochoa, the first female Hispanic astronaut, earned a BS in Physics from San Diego State in 1980.  Actress and filmmaker Jodie Foster graduated from Yale University in 1984 with a BA in Literature. American journalist and political commentator Anderson Cooper is also a Yale alum, graduating in 1989 with a BA in Political Science.

Duquesne vs. Illinois

Daniel Rooney, former US Diplomat and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, graduated from Duquesne University in 1955 with a BA in Accounting.  University of Illinois alumni include Suze Orman, personal finance expert and best selling author, who earned a BA in Social Work in 1977, and former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch, who earned a Ph.D in Chemical Engineering in 1960.

Washington State vs. Iowa State

American journalist and war correspondent Edward Murrow graduated from Washington State University in 1930 with a BA in Speech.  The Murrow College of Communication at WSU bears his name!  Researcher and scientist George Washington Carver was Iowa State’s first African American student, graduate, and faculty member.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Mechanical Arts in 1894 and earned a Master of Science in 1896.


North Carolina vs. Michigan State

University of North Carolina alumni include Andy Griffith, actor and comedian, who graduated in 1941 with a BA in Music.  Actress Sharon Lawrence is also a UNC grad, earning a BA in Journalism in 1983.  Mia Hamm, professional soccer player and World Cup champion, graduated with a BA in Political Science from North Carolina in 1994.  Chris Hansen, journalist and NBC correspondent, is a 1981 graduate of Michigan State University, where he earned a BA in Journalism.

Grand Canyon vs. Alabama

Comedian Bill Engvall graduated from Grand Canyon University in 2021 with a BA in Christian Studies.  Henry Cejudo, Olympic Gold Medalist wrestler and UFC champion, is a 2015 Grand Canyon graduate, where he earned a degree in Theology.  Actress Sonequa Martin-Green, best known for her role as Sasha on The Walking Dead, is a 2007 alum of the University of Alabama where she earned a BA in Theatre.  Joe Scarborough, American cable news and talk radio host and former politician, is also an Alabama graduate, earning a BA in History in 1985.  In 2011, Scarborough was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Clemson vs. Baylor

PGA Tour player and 2009 US Open winner Lucas Glover is a 2005 Clemson graduate. He returned to Clemson to finish his degree after attending from 1998-2001 and turning pro in 2001.  Baylor has a notable couple who are alumni: HGTV personalities and owners of Magnolia brand Chip and Joanna Gaines. Chip earned a BA in Marketing and Business Administration in 1998, and Joanna earned a BA in Communications in 2001.

Dayton vs. Arizona

American humorist and writer Erma Bombeck graduated from the University of Dayton in 1949 with a BA in English. Jon Gruden, former NFL and college football coach, is also a Dayton graduate, earning a BA in Communications in 1986. Kourtney Kardashian Barker is a 2002 University of Arizona alum, graduating with a BA in Theatre arts and a minor in Spanish.  Filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer graduated from Arizona in 1967 with a BA in Psychology.


Houston vs. Texas A&M

Actor Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory) graduated from the University of Houston in 1996 with a BA in Theatre.  Senator Elizabeth Warren is also a Houston alum, graduating in 1970 with a BS in Audiology and Speech Pathology. Grammy Award winning country music singer Lyle Lovett graduated from Texas A&M in 1979 with a BA in Journalism and German.

James Madison vs. Duke

American broadcast journalist and CNN correspondent Jim Acosta is a 1993 graduate of James Madison University, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Political Science.  Christina Tosi, chef and cookbook author, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and Italian from James Madison in 2002.  Actor and comedian Ken Jeong graduated from Duke University in 1990 with a degree in Biology.  Senator Elizabeth Dole is a 1958 alum of Duke, where she earned a BA in Political Science.

NC State vs. Oakland

Country music artist Scotty McCreery graduated from North Carolina State University in 2016 with a BA in Communications.  John Edwards, US Senator and former VP candidate, earned a BS in Textile Management from NC State in 1974.  Actor Curtis Armstrong is a 1975 graduate of Oakland University.  He earned a BFA in the Academy of Dramatic Arts program.

Colorado vs. Marquette

Sports journalist Rick Reilly graduated from the University of Colorado with a BA in Journalism in 1981.  Matt Stone, co-creator and executive producer of South Park, is also a Colorado alum; he graduated in 1993 with a BA in Art and Math.  Chris Farley, comedian of SNL fame, graduated from Marquette University in 1986 with a BA in Communications and Theatre.  Camping World and Good Sam CEO Marcus Lemonis is a 1995 alum of Marquette, graduating with a BA in Political Science, Criminology, and Economics.


Purdue vs. Utah State

Neil Armstrong, astronaut and first man on the moon, earned a BS in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1955.  Revolutionary popcorn magnate Orville Redenbacher is also a Purdue alum; he graduated in 1928 with a BS in Agronomy.  Sawyer Hemsley is Crumbl Cookie’s co-founder and COO; he graduated from Utah State in 2018 with a BS in Communication Studies.  NFL Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner, who was on the Seattle Seahawks winning Super Bowl team and has led the NFL in tackles twice, graduated from Utah State in 2012 with a BS in Entrepreneurship.

Gonzaga vs. Kansas

Gonzaga has John Stockton, NBA Hall of Fame point guard, among its alums; he graduated in 1984 with a BA in Business Administration.  Former Governor of Washington Christine Gregoire is also an alum of Gonzaga, graduating from law school in 1977 with a Juris Doctor degree.  Gillian Flynn, American writer and screenwriter, earned a BA in English and Journalism from the University of Kansas in 1994.  Another University of Kansas alum is Dean Smith, college basketball coaching legend at UNC Chapel Hill, who earned a BS in Education in 1953.

Oregon vs. Creighton

Phil Knight, President and CEO of Nike, graduated from the University of Oregon in 1959 with a BA in Business. His estimated worth is $41.4 billion!  The Oregon connection with Nike is the reason that they have such a stunning variety of uniforms for their sports.  Former NBA player and Hall of Fame coach Paul Silas is a 1964 graduate of Creighton University, with a BA in Business.

Texas vs. Tennessee

The University of Texas has Matthew McConaughey, actor (and UT superfan!) as an alum; he graduated in 1993 with a BFA in Film.  Former First Lady Laura Bush is a 1973 Texas graduate with a Masters of Library Science; she also served as a UT-Austin Librarian.  Scott Kelly, retired astronaut and engineer who participated in 4 space flights, graduated in 1996 from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Electrical Engineering.  Author and money management expert Dave Ramsey is also a Tennessee alum, earning a BA in Finance and a BA in Real Estate in 1982.

In sports, entertainment, journalism, business, science, and more, these colleges have an impressive roster of alums.  So, as you cheer on your favorite teams in the tournament, let's also cheer on the amazing people who once called these colleges home.

Who will make it to the Sweet 16?  Check back with us next week where we will learn about campus traditions!

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Tagged: ncaa, alumni, march madness, Alyson Campbell, Jamie Kirby, basketball

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