Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan told new University of Illinois graduates that the hard path is the way to success.

As Khan spoke Sunday at his alma mater's commencement, a small group of protesters complained about working conditions at his business.

Khan owns the Urbana-based Flex-N-Gate Corp. According to The News-Gazette in Champaign, he told the new graduates that he often took the hard way when he had a choice and it usually paid off.

Protester Gene Vanderport said outside the arena that Khan isn't an appropriate speaker.

Federal regulators have found a number of what they call serious safety violations at Flex-N-Gate facilities.

The university shelved its initial plans to give Khan an honorary degree after some faculty complained.