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He’s 49 with a good-paying job, and Mark Followill does not need his college degree.
When the TV play-by-play voice of the Dallas Mavericks and often FC Dallas left the University of North Texas in 1992, he had 60 credit hours to his name.
“I left to start working because I was 20-something and impatient,” Followill said.
In 2017, Followill started to take Spanish classes online to improve his ability to communicate with soccer players. He started to pile up credit hours, and he figured he might as well finish it out.
One of the benefits to COVID-19 is that it has given people the time to pursue various projects, from finishing “that book” to re-doing yards and rooms. For Followill, it created more time for him to become a college graduate.
Approximately 30 years after starting college, he is on track to earn his Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree from UNT in December.
“I don’t know if that [not having a degree] ever bothered me,” he said. “I was just taking Spanish classes, but it became so rewarding. It was hard staying up ‘til 2 a.m. and cramming for a test. Learning became so much fun again.”
Since returning to college he has taken virtually all of his classes online.
For anyone who started college and but is now intimidated by the price or time to finish up, follow Followill.
Followill’s academic transcript looks similar to the college basketball player who is trying to find the next place to play.
The majority of his academic hours come from UNT, with some Dallas Community College and Oklahoma State in there, too.
Most people familiar with Followill, whether it was his days at Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket, or his time calling Dallas Mavs games, know he’s a UNT homer. They likely assumed he is already a UNT grad.
“I give UNT a shout-out whenever I can because without my time there I wouldn’t be here,” he said.
People familiar with Followill also know that there’s a weatherman trapped inside this sportscaster. Mark would be just as well suited wearing rain gear, attached to a stop sign, giving live weather reports inside of the eye of a tornado from DeadEnd, Kansas.
It only makes sense he took a class in meteorology at Oklahoma State.
“There were three tests and they were hard,” he said.
He also took an class on African American history in the United States since 1865.
“I really thought it would be a great time to take this class considering where we are in the history of the world,” he said. “I was in the class for three days and my mind was blown every five minutes.”
After July, he will essentially have nine more credit hours remaining to complete his degree.
But later this month, he’ll return to his play-by-play duties by calling Mavericks games as 22 NBA teams are scheduled to resume the season just outside Orlando. The broadcast team will call the games from a studio in DFW.
“All of it has been great. It’s been so rewarding,” he said. “I have to say even though I am interacting only online and a lot of it is with adults like me, there are a lot of 20-year-olds doing this, too. Working with those people has really given me a lot of hope for our future, that we are in good hands.”