Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim, others supporting spring athletes

Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim and other SU leaders are doing wonderful deeds during these trying times brought on by the pandemic.

When the novel coronavirus pandemic halted the collegiate-sports landscape back in mid-March, that significantly affected student-athletes involved in spring sports, yet Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim and other Orange leaders are stepping up in a tremendous way to help them.

Syracuse University Athletics has created an initiative called Together ‘Cuse that in part is working to assist those Orange student-athletes whose spring sports’ seasons got cancelled because of the pandemic.

The NCAA, thankfully, has created a mechanism for colleges and universities to invite seniors in these sports back for an additional year of eligibility, and SU athletics director John Wildhack said in a announcement, “With the support of Chancellor [Kent] Syverud, the athletics department and our coaches are taking on the financial challenge of bringing interested senior spring sport athletes back because it is simply the right thing to do.”

Per the press release, the 28 returning student-athletes have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.2 and represent all of Syracuse’s spring sports – men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s rowing, tennis, softball, and men’s and women’s track and field.

Wildhack and his wife, Amy, have committed five percent of his salary to help offset the unbudgeted expense of providing 28 spring sport seniors the opportunity to continue their education and complete their athletic eligibility.

Boeheim and his wife, Juli, who already do so much for the greater Syracuse community, are also making a “sizable gift” to Together ‘Cuse to support spring sport student-athletes. “I am proud of our school and I am thrilled to be able to step up and make this donation,” Jim Boeheim said.

Famed sports broadcaster Mike Tirico, who is a member of the SU board of trustees, and his wife Deb, a women’s basketball letter winner, have made a “substantial gift.”

Three-sport Orange letterman Cliff Ensley and his wife, Sue, the lead donors for Ensley Athletic Center, also made a significant commitment.

A leadership donation has come from 2018 graduate Justyn Knight, a former NCAA track and field national champion who is currently training to represent Canada in the postponed 2020 Summer Olympics.

Kurt Kleinhans is the son of former Syracuse rower and men’s lacrosse defender Richard Kleinhans, who went on to become executive vice president of worldwide equipment manufacturing at Kodak in Rochester, N.Y.

Richard delivered his love for the Orange to his family. When their mother, Claire Kleinhans, unfortunately passed away, Kurt and his siblings decided to make a gift in honor of their parents.

“If my dad was alive, I know he would jump on ‘Together ‘Cuse’ in a minute,” Kurt Kleinhans said in the statement. “He always attributed his experience at Syracuse University as being a very important part of his success in life.”

These donations announced through Together ‘Cuse, by the way, come just a few weeks after SU revealed that Wildhack and Boeheim, along with several other head coaches and senior university officials, are taking a voluntary 10-percent salary reduction for the fiscal year 2021.

With all the tough stuff going on these days due to the pandemic, these Syracuse leaders are setting a beautiful example, and we should unequivocally applaud them for that.

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