Saints' Sean Payton lauded with honorary degree

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints coach Sean Payton argues a referee's penalty call in the first half of the Saints' 45-17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, January 1, 2012, in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints coach Sean Payton argues a referee's penalty call in the first half of the Saints' 45-17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, January 1, 2012, in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree Saturday from his alma mater.

According to a news release from the university, which is located in Charleston, Ill., the degree was given to Payton in “recognition of his generosity and service to society.”

Payton received his bachelor’s degree from the school in 1987 after a record-setting career as a quarterback from 1983-86. He was inducted into the EIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000, and his No. 18 jersey was retired in 2010. That year, he was named a distinguished alumnus by the EIU Alumni Association.

Payton was recognized for his Play It Forward Foundation, which was created to raise funds and awareness for organizations fighting for children and families in need.