Gardner received his diploma Friday from the University of Cincinnati, where he played football from 2019 to 2021. He participated in the commencement ceremony after flying to Cincinnati from Canton, Ohio, where the Jets played Thursday night in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.
Gardner took classes in the spring to complete his academic requirements, earning a degree in interdisciplinary studies.
"It kind of feels like game day," Gardner said after receiving his diploma, according to Cincinnati.com. "It's a box that I feel like was unchecked. My mom always told me to put school first. It's big for me and I know it's big for her as well."
Drafted fourth overall by the Jets in 2022, Gardner became Cincinnati's highest-drafted player. In addition to winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, he was named first-team All-Pro.
Gardner, who was known as Ahmad Gardner when he arrived as a freshman, was announced as "Sauce Gardner" at the ceremony.