The Mercer Bears put themselves on the college basketball map -- and in the history books -- by stunning third-seeded Duke in the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday. Until then, the Bears, who rallied for a 78-71 win, might have been best known in basketball circles for being the alma mater of former NBA player and coach Sam Mitchell.

But Mercer, located in Macon, Georgia, has some other distinguished alums in various fields of work:

Mercer -- Which Just Shocked Duke -- Is Alma Mater Of Nancy Grace, John Rocker Slideshow


Sam Mitchell

Mitchell played 13 seasons in the NBA with Pacers and Timberwolves. He was the NBA coach of the year in 2007 with Toronto. At Mercer, Mitchell was the Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year in 1985, which was the last time the Bears made it to the NCAA tournament until this year.


Carl Vinson

When Michigan State and North Carolina played a basketball game on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in 2011, it was the USS Carl Vinson. Vinson earned a law degree from Mercer in 1902. His bio from the Mercer website: "United States Representative for more than 50 years, 1914-1965; long-time Chairman, House Armed Services Committee; has been called the 'patriarch of the armed services' and the 'father of the two-ocean navy;' namesake of the USS Carl Vinson.


John Rocker

The MLB pitcher known for his controversial comments spent some time at Mercer before turning pro.


Bill Yoast

Yoast was a high school football coach who was portrayed by actor Will Patton in the movie "Remember The Titans."


Malcolm Malone Johnson

Johnson was a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and his reports were the basis for "On the Waterfront" starring Marlon Brando.


Nancy Grace

The former prosecutor who became a star as a legal analyst on TV earned undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer.


Wally Butts

The longtime coach and athletic director for the Georgia Bulldogs is in the College Football Hall of Fame.


Griffin Bell

Bell was the U.S. Attorney General for the Carter Administration.


John Birch

Birch was a "missionary and spy in China during World War II," according to Mercer's website. His memory inspired the creation of the John Birch Society, but he was not involved in the movement. According to Wikipedia, "Birch is known today mainly by the society that bears his name although Jimmy Doolittle, who met Birch after Doolittle's raid on Tokyo, said in his autobiography that he was sure that Birch 'would not have approved.'"

previous next

Here is a longer list of Mercer's notable alumni, which includes Katie Couric's dad.