CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University Athletics Department announced today the CSU "Victory Lap" program for spring-sport senior student-athletes whose 2019-20 seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will afford 14 student-athletes, who participate in track & field, softball, lacrosse, men's and women's tennis, as well as men's and women's golf to return to Cleveland State and compete for the Vikings during the 2020-21 season while advancing their academic pursuits.
To receive financial assistance from Cleveland State's "Victory Lap" program, student-athletes will be required to enroll exclusively in credit hours that are required for completion of their original undergraduate degrees, enroll in a new second undergraduate major track or CSU certificate program, or enroll in one of the University's post-graduate degree programs. Student-athletes who choose to enroll in a graduate program will also receive financial aid in 2021-22 and an opportunity to serve as a graduate assistant performing administrative duties within the athletics department.
"We are excited to provide an opportunity for these student-athletes, whose final seasons were abruptly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to continue their academic and athletic careers at Cleveland State," said Director of Athletics Scott Garrett. "This approach is absolutely the right thing to do for our student-athletes and will require a significant commitment from each of them to maintain a rigorous academic schedule, while giving their final seasons another try. We are hopeful that Cleveland State University alumni and supporters who are able will consider providing financial support for the final stages of these student-athletes' journey. On behalf of our student-athletes, I would like to extend enormous appreciation to CSU President Harlan Sands and Vice President and CSU Foundation Executive Director Julie Rehm for their tremendous support and their leadership in acknowledging the importance of delivering this opportunity."
The 14 student-athletes will receive up to the same athletics financial aid award that they received in the 2019-20 academic year, while being able to compete in the 2020-21 season through a waiver approved in March by the NCAA Division I Council. The anticipated $225,000 in aid will be covered through future donations to, as well as the existing funds within, the CSU Foundation's Homer E. Woodling Endowment. Disbursement of these funds will not impact the athletics department's annual operating budget. Established in 1982 after longtime Fenn College / Cleveland State University administrator and coach, the Homer E. Woodling endowment was created by the Athletics Department to assist student-athlete scholarship funding. Woodling dedicated 37 years of service to Cleveland State, serving as Fenn College's first and only athletic director, while coaching basketball, baseball, track, golf and tennis.
"I am extremely thankful for what Mr. Garrett and the athletic department have done with the 'Victory Lap' program, giving myself and other spring senior student-athletes the chance to continue our education and finish what we started when we chose to attend Cleveland State University four years ago," said men's tennis senior Nico Mostardi. "Personally, my teammates and I were having one of our best seasons during 2020 and being able to put on a Cleveland State uniform one more time means everything to me. I'm looking forward to representing CSU for one more year, leaving everything on the court, and not taking anything for granted when we are back together again."
"We are excited that eight of our lacrosse student-athletes will have the opportunity to return to our team next season," said men's lacrosse head coach Andy German. "I want to thank Director of Athletics, Scott Garrett, for his efforts in helping to make the 'Victory Lap' program available to all spring-sport teams and providing an opportunity for our players to conclude their collegiate careers on their own terms. The fact that these players can further their educational pursuits while continuing to make their mark on the program that they helped start is a rewarding outcome of an unfortunate situation."
Donations to assist in funding Cleveland State's "Victory Lap" program are encouraged and can be made at www.csuvictorylap.com. Questions regarding donation opportunities can be sent to Brandon Longmeier, Assistant Athletics Director for the Viking Fund, at email@example.com.