STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia Southern University has pledged to cover next year’s tuition for returning senior spring athletes and take care of any aid they were due for this year.
“How you spend your money and your time is indicative on your priorities,” Athletic Director Jared Benko said. “Spending money on student-athletes is always going to be our top priority.”
According to the school’s athletic department, it will cost approximately $140,000 to bring interested senior spring athletes back. Benko said the athletic department has found ways to fundraise and cut costs to take care of the price tag.
The choice to cover tuition was not a quick process. Benko said he met with spring sports coaches to gauge how many seniors showed interest in returning for their extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA. Once the decision was made, Georgia Southern’s new athletic director said he let the coaches deliver the good news.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Benko explained. “If I can come behind and follow up that’s great, but I wanted this to be a special moment with the head coaches and student athletes.”
Georgia Southern is expected to bring back a maximum of 14 senior spring athletes back on scholarship. Benko hopes the financial help will support the student-athletes for what they do off the field as much as they do on the field.
“They each have unique stories and come from different backgrounds and we have the opportunity to be a change agent in a positive way,” Benko added. “That’s why we all got into college athletics — to play a small role in their development. Yes, it was great to have them come back for their senior season but, more importantly, it helps them finish their academic studies and get a head start on their masters.”
As news broke of the school’s decision, student-athletes had some fun on social media announcing they would be returning for the 2021 spring season.
Benko enjoyed scrolling through Twitter last night to check out the reaction from Eagle Nation.
“I saw some pretty cool GIFs from men’s golf,” Benko said with a smile. “The excitement is off the charts and that’s further affirmation that it was the right decision.”