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Presidential salute

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- When Niagara's players and coaches shared a private moment in their locker room after winning Monday's MAAC title, they presented a game ball to Rev. Joseph Levesque, the university's president.

First-year athletics director Ed McLaughlin has routinely praised Levesque for his guidance during the team's September chaos after the hoopsters' celebrated rumble with an NU baseball player resulted in multiple suspensions. Coach Joe Mihalich is also a huge booster of Levesque, who was instrumental in bringing embattled former star Calvin Murphy back into NU's good graces two years ago.

"I really believe Father Levesque deserves a lot of credit tonight," Mihalich said. "He made a tough decision and it turned out to be the best thing that could happen to our team. Way back in September, he said, 'I want our students to learn how to live, not just how to play.' Being the great leader that he is, he made the right decision. Our kids learned from it and learned how to be better people.''

---Mike Harrington

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