Published on April 23, 2020 at 8:39 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ As long as they’re in good academic standing, any graduating Syracuse athlete whose spring season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic will have a chance to return with an extra year of eligibility. The NCAA made eligibility “appropriate” for all graduating spring athletes on March 30, but pushed the responsibility of actually offering it to individual schools. It’s the college sports equivalent of federalism, of the president allowing each state to decide when to initiate stay-at-home orders and when to reopen nonessential businesses.Syracuse didn’t have to do this. It absolutely would’ve been easier to take the Wisconsin route and say ‘thanks for your service, good luck in the real world’ to graduating seniors. It certainly would’ve saved SU a penny.“People can quarrel with the decision you make, there’s very few pure right or pure wrong decisions in a time like this, but I just thought it was the right thing to do,” Syracuse University Director of Athletics John Wildhack told reporters on a conference call Thursday morning.And it is. Offering to “support any senior from spring sports whose season was cut short and who wish to return” is a generous, thoughtful decision. It’s not an easy choice, but it’s one that puts Syracuse’s athletes first. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“For us, the first thing that we’ve done is to really focus on our student-athletes,” Wildhack said. “Because that’s our mission statement, that’s what we’re here for: to provide them the best experience both academically and athletically as we can. That’s been our No. 1 objective.” The choice proves that Wildhack was genuine when he said, after the NCAA canceled the remainder of spring sports, that he empathized with athletes and coaches whose seasons ended abruptly.Of course he felt for those athletes. How could he not? Their seasons, many of which were more promising than ever, ended in a gutting, heartless way. A pandemic threatened to terminate their college careers and some of the highlights of their lives.All-American attack Emily Hawryschuk’s returning for a fifth year. Ace Alexa Romero’s coming back, too. So are decorated lacrosse goalies Drake Porter and Asa Goldstock. Men’s lacrosse defender Nick Mellen won’t, but that’s OK. At least he had the option.Not all schools have the financial luxury to offer relief to so many athletes. Syracuse, which generated a school record $99.8 million in revenue in 2018-19, does. More schools will join Cincinnati in cutting sports and more schools like Wisconsin — which brought in $152 million in revenue in 2017-18 — will inevitably decline to offer graduating seniors relief.But at SU, 28 graduating spring athletes are returning, at least one from each spring sport, Wildhack said. He did not confirm whether they’ll be back on the same scholarship they previously had, but said “we’re trying to make things comparable for everybody to the best of our ability.” Many challenging financial decisions still loom. Colleges and conferences across the country are reportedly considering just about everything, from cutting entire programs to shortening seasons of non-revenue Olympic sports. Because of the lost NCAA Tournament, the NCAA’s 2020 revenue distribution will be $225 million, less than half the expected $600 million. That’s a big hit to everyone, even powerhouses like Syracuse. Wildhack said the athletic department’s had no discussions about eliminating sports. But, he also said several times in his 40-minute press conference that so much is unknown. A lot can change in a world of facemasks and Zoom happy hours. Hopefully Syracuse can alleviate the financial stress without cutting programs, instead working at the margins. On Monday, the university announced several high-earning employees, including Wildhack, Jim Boeheim, Dino Babers and John Desko, will take 10% pay cuts in the 2021 fiscal year to support students, faculty and staff particularly affected by COVID-19. That may not even make a dent in Syracuse’s lost revenue, but it’s a start. “You’ve got to build a variety of budget contingencies,” Wildhack said. Perhaps some luxurious amenities for athletes will have to go. Maybe teams will have to ride the bus to away games instead of chartered flights. Some athletics administrative workers may get furloughed or laid off, unfortunately. Cutting a sport entirely, though, would be devastating. It would be dream-deferring. No solution is perfect. But we’re living in a far from perfect time. Accommodating graduating spring athletes who want another crack at their season is a serious gesture for SU, a moral success in the first major test of handling COVID-19’s impact on college sports. Danny Emerman is the sports editor for The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or @DannyEmerman. Comments
He’s improved each year and increased his height more than two feet from what he was leaping as a freshman. Cadwalader attributes that growth to Garcia. “I can’t say enough about coach Nick Garcia,” Cadwalader said. “He’s really trained all of us. “I can’t explain my improvement, other than I go to a lot of camps. I’ve been to Mt. SAC, Cal State Fullerton and some others. My coach has connections with a lot of (track) people, and a place like Mt. SAC, which has a lot of great vaulters … they’ve helped us out. It’s a lot of fun.” It’s also a lot of work, which Cadwalader doesn’t mind because he knows the end justifies the means. He also attributes part of his success to being a wide receiver on the football team. “It helps with my speed, which you need when you go down the runway,” he said. “It takes a lot of practice, because you have to try and remain consistent with all your jumps. “There’s different ways to run in track. This way, you have to stay tall, no matter what. The taller you are, the more likely you will get up and over the bar. There’s a lot of different mechanics and a lot of different things we do to get it down. It’s a lot of hard work.” The payoff comes at the end of the season. Last year, Brown and Cadwalader placed in the top five at the CIF-SS Division IV finals and cleared 12-6. Cadwalader placed third, with Brown tying for fifth. The ties in field events are determined by the number of misses. “I was just very consistent (last year),” Cadwalader said. “I really didn’t have any expectations. I just kept on working and was able to stay very consistent throughout the whole season. “That’s the goal this season, and hopefully it will all work out.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3061 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I’m expecting big things this year. I’m expecting big things from all of us,” said Cadwalader, also referring to fellow St. Paul pole vaulters De Dios and Dusty Brown. “I think we all can go 13 feet, and I want to set a personal record (13-6).” No one is doubting Cadwalader can do it. But there also is no doubt the keys to his success go back to De Dios’ meeting with Garcia in 2005. Cadwalader remembers it vividly. “It’s all because of my good friend Eddie,” he said. “His older brother was a pole vaulter (at St. Paul). He graduated and I came with Eddie during our freshman year to talk to the coach. “The pole vault coach was talking with him about pole vaulting, and I was right there with him, listening. (De Dios) asked me to pole vault with him, and three (seasons) later, here I am. I was vaulting 11 feet my freshman year, so it was definitely something I thought I could do.” SANTA FE SPRINGS – It’s hard to imagine what Ryan Cadwalader would be doing at St. Paul High School if he hadn’t accompanied friend Eddie De Dios two years ago to a meeting with Swordsmen pole vault coach Nick Garcia. The junior most likely wouldn’t be a member of the Swordsmen’s boys track and field team, let alone one of the top pole vaulters in the CIF-Southern Section. But after two years honing his craft, that’s exactly where Cadwalader finds himself. The junior, after a top-five finish at last season’s CIF-SS divisional track and field championships, is expecting bigger and greater things this spring.