Searching for George Santos’s Baruch Faculty volleyball profession


NEW YORK — You’d assume such a embellished former student-athlete can be … remembered. College of Michigan undergrads nonetheless take satisfaction in Tom Brady, in spite of everything; even the youngest Tar Heel can boast about Michael Jordan.

However once I requested two younger girls who had come to see the Baruch Faculty males’s volleyball workforce play St. Joseph’s Faculty on Tuesday evening what they considered native school volleyball legend George Santos, they checked out me blankly. Honest sufficient; maybe Santos’s stardom was earlier than their time.

Nonetheless, although. You’d assume a faculty’s directors would leap on the probability to promote his involvement with the varsity. However no. On the Baruch Faculty Athletic & Recreation Advanced on Manhattan’s East Facet, the primary partitions one sees as a customer are emblazoned from flooring to ceiling with 8-foot-tall heroic motion photographs of standout swimmers, basketball gamers, tennis gamers of yore. And but: Nowhere on this shrine is there any hint of the purported volleyball star who turned a congressman from New York’s third district.

After losing his mother in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then graduating from New York’s prestigious Horace Mann, however lengthy earlier than he made a name for himself on Wall Street, survived an assassination attempt and began an animal-rescue charity that rescued thousands of dogs and hundreds of cats (and most definitely did not perform in drag or allegedly steal thousands of dollars while letting a dog die), Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) has mentioned, he went to Baruch Faculty in New York Metropolis on a volleyball scholarship. In keeping with his résumé, he graduated summa cum laude from Baruch, which is a part of the Metropolis College of New York (CUNY) system and the NCAA’s Division III, in 2010.

“We went to play towards Harvard, Yale, and we slayed them. We had been champions throughout all the Northeast Hall. Each faculty that got here up towards us, they had been shaking on the time. And it’s humorous. I used to be the smallest man and I’m 6-2,” Santos instructed the WABC radio present “Sid & Buddies within the Morning” in 2020. “It was a good time. I sacrificed each my knees and received very good knee replacements, knee replacements from taking part in volleyball. That’s how severe I took the sport.” He additionally talked about that he selected volleyball over basketball as a result of it “was simpler.”

So how may an athletic division merely move up the possibility to boast that Santos performed volleyball right here on this very campus, earlier than he Forrest Gumped from tragedy to the higher echelons of the American Dream and the decrease home of Congress? What, I questioned as I traversed the dusty again hallways of the under-construction ARC on Tuesday evening, would turn out to be of Santos’s athletic legacy, if the varsity hadn’t even thought to incorporate him within the 2009 and 2010 males’s volleyball workforce photographs hanging within the ARC’s hallway of their modest black frames? Had been his contributions already misplaced to historical past?

The college’s media workplace mentioned nobody presently concerned with the workforce was obtainable for an interview about Santos’s profession, and the athletic director didn’t return a request for remark. However absolutely among the people who had been concerned with this system through the legendary run Santos described would have the ability to assist maintain the reminiscences of his contributions to the game alive.

“George Santos by no means performed for Baruch males’s volleyball,” Vincent Cruz, 33, who performed center blocker for the workforce from 2010 to 2012, instructed me.

“There wasn’t anybody with that identify taking part in on the workforce,” mentioned Eryk Kowalski, the workforce’s center blocker between 2008 and 2011.

“I do know each single participant that I coached. On the lads’s and the ladies’s facet. I talk with most of them,” mentioned Allison Stack, the coach of the Baruch Bearcats males’s volleyball workforce from 2007 to 2013. “This gentleman by no means tried out, by no means practiced with us.”

“There was a George Chave, and there was a Santos Rivera,” mentioned Jonathan Tuwaidan, 35, the workforce’s setter, exterior hitter and libero from 2007 to 2010. “However no George Santos.”

No George Santos? Was his legendarily courageous sacrifice (of his knees) on the altar of Bearcat victory actually simply … a legend?

“Baruch doesn’t have a file of George Santos or George Devolder [another name Santos has used] born on July 22, 1988, with a commencement yr of 2010, enrolled at Baruch Faculty,” Suzanne Bronski, the director of public relations for Baruch, wrote in an e mail to me. In different phrases, she added, “there isn’t any file of this individual … attending Baruch, and subsequently, [was] not a student-athlete on considered one of Baruch’s athletic groups.”

To clear up the confusion, I attempted to contact Santos straight, however neither he nor any consultant wrote again.

The alumni of the Baruch volleyball program, although, had been very happy to fill me in, calling Santos’s descriptions of his time at Baruch “blatant lies,” “disgraceful” and “clearly false.” For starters, “NCAA Division III doesn’t permit athletic scholarships. Solely tutorial,” mentioned Stack, the coach. (Additionally, Stack argues, volleyball is not simpler than basketball.)

And what’s extra: “We did beat Harvard, however we by no means performed Yale,” mentioned Kowalski. Yale, he factors out, doesn’t even have a men’s volleyball team.

Cruz, in the meantime, observed that Santos has described his position on the team as “striker” — which isn’t an actual place in volleyball. And in accordance with Tuwaidan, 6-foot-2 would have been removed from the shortest man on the workforce within the late 2000s. “On the prime elite colleges, like the massive Division I colleges in California, 6-1, 6-2 — pretty brief,” Tuwaidan mentioned. However at Baruch, “6-2 remains to be pretty tall. I’m 5-11, and I used to be one of the shortest guys on my workforce.” Baruch’s present libero, the scrappy and dynamic senior Jonathan Liao, is listed on the workforce’s official roster at a compact 5-foot-5.

On Tuesday evening, Liao leaped and dove alongside 5 of his brethren on the court docket whereas 13 extra gamers cheered from the bench. All had been seemingly oblivious to the blaze of nationwide consideration their storied volleyball lineage has recently introduced upon them. As had been the 50 or so followers scattered all through the sector who cheered the workforce on to a comparatively businesslike straight-sets loss.

However that was the opposite bizarre factor, in accordance with Kowalski. Graduating from Baruch and having performed volleyball there, “it’s an accomplishment,” Kowalski says. “However it’s not one thing you’d assume somebody can be mendacity about, prefer it’s some sort of like medal of honor.”

“He doesn’t know sufficient in regards to the sport to even fabricate an clever lie,” mentioned Cruz.

“That mentioned, I’m very happy to increase an invite to him to play at an alumni match the following time we now have one. I feel we might all get a kick out of it.”

New York Republican George Santos, who’s accused of fabricating particulars from his previous, began his new congressional job Jan. 3. (Video: Michael Cadenhead/The Washington Publish)

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