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UF awards Gainesville music legend Tom Petty a posthumous doctorate in music

Tom Petty's image on UF scoreboard
Amy Harris via AP
The University of Florida Board of Trustees voted to honor iconic rock musician Tom Petty, who was born in Gainesville, with a posthumous honorary doctorate degree in music.

Even though he didn't attend UF, "Petty's famed ‘I Won’t Back Down’ has become a mantra at athletic events,” the nomination form read.

Nearly two decades after earning a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and more than four years after his death, rock icon Tom Petty has been awarded a honorary Ph.D. from the University of Florida.

The school’s board of trustees unanimously voted to award Thomas Earl Petty a posthumous doctoral degree in music during a Friday meeting.

A nomination form submitted to the trustees said that Petty’s “presence remains significant” after his death in 2017. “On the UF campus, Petty’s famed ‘I Won’t Back Down’ has become a mantra at athletic events,” the document said.

Born and raised in Gainesville, Petty once worked as a groundskeeper at UF as he tried to make it in the music industry, but he was never enrolled.

His "I Won't Back Down" is a signature rallying point at UF athletic events.

Petty passed away from an accidental drug overdose in October 2017.

Information from News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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