Lions Receive Major Donation During Televised Game
January 19, 2015
The Saint Leo University Lions enjoyed unprecedented attention and generous financial support Sunday when the men’s basketball team played the Lynn University Fighting Knights in a game broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network. Cale Girten, Number 24, (pictured) and teammates were also broadcast on www.NCAA.com.
An energetic crowd of 1,275 not only cheered the Lions, but also applauded the generosity of avid fan Peter J. Biscardi ’70 and his wife Linda S. Biscardi, who presented a $100,000 donation to the Saint Leo Athletic Excellence Fund to benefit student-athletes. University President Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., and Athletics Director Fran Reidy publicly accepted the gift from the couple (pictured) during a break in the intense game.
Ultimately, the Lions yielded to the Knights by a score of 62-55. Still, given all the highlights of the day, the Saint Leo community was thrilled, said Denny Moller, vice president of advancement and communications. “You have to consider that our athletes played to a record-setting audience, and were seen on national television being cheered almost non-stop by their fellow students (pictured). People got to see what Saint Leo is all about–hard work, great play, and incredible enthusiasm. And it was another opportunity to acknowledge the generosity of the Biscardis, who like many of our alumni, give back to a place they feel gave them a solid start in life.”
Mr. Moller also noted that because so many Saint Leo students study at education centers away from University Campus, and online, the national broadcast provided a special opportunity for them to share in the excitement of the university’s athletics program. (The athletics program at Saint Leo is grounded in an emphasis on academics first, as demonstrated by the Fall 2014 student-athlete cumulative grade point of average of 3.192.)
President Kirk was interviewed live for the national audience during halftime (pictured) and highlighted the generosity of Saint Leo students. The athletic teams, for instance, conduct fundraising to support the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and help bring attention to the needs of the children the foundation benefits, all as an expression of community, one of Saint Leo’s six core values. Dr. Kirk also provided other examples of the broad community outreach projects students, whether or not they are athletes, participate in throughout the year.
Also sharing the student spotlight with the Lions basketball players were the women’s and men’s cross-country teams, which assembled at center court for recognition of their strong fall season. Both teams won the Sunshine State Conference championship. The men advanced to their second straight NCAA Division II National Championship while the women progressed to their first NCAA finals.
Fans and viewers were also exposed to the performance talents of the Saint Leo Lions cheerleading team; Fritz, the always delightful Saint Leo mascot; and the student singing group S.A.S.S. (sopranos, altos and second soprano), which provided an a cappella rendition of the national anthem.