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Arizona gets help covering cost of super seniors returning in 2020-21

COLLEGE SOFTBALL: MAR 18 Utah at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats announced that Andrew and Kirsten Braccia, boosters from the San Francisco Bay Area, have donated $1.5 million to help fund the UA’s COVID-19 initiatives, with 80 percent of that money going toward the school’s testing, research and re-entry fund.

The rest of it—$300,000—is helping Arizona cover the cost of its senior spring student-athletes returning for another season after their 2020 campaigns were cut short by the coronavirus crisis.

That $300,000 is half the estimated total cost, according to the UA. That is notable for an athletic department that once projected it will have a $7.5 million shortfall for the 2019-20 fiscal year due to the pandemic.

While it’s unclear where the other $300,000 will come from, it is good to know Arizona isn’t being penalized too badly for doing what athletic director Dave Heeke thought was the right thing by giving the super seniors, as he calls them, a chance to end their careers on their own terms.

Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea surely appreciates it, as his team’s seven-best players are super seniors.

“It’s created some different some nuances. We’ll have bigger rosters, we’ll have some different things, but you always want your last moment to be on the field or on the court,” Heeke said in a recent Wildcat Chat. “That you walk off, that you have one more time in the huddle, you have one more time together, one more time in the locker room to close it out. I know I have a son who plays Division I baseball, and he was on a bus when they said the season was over. And that’s hard on young people. So I feel very, very blessed that those young people can have another season and close it out the right way.”