Northern Kentucky University will be sending another baseball player to the professional ranks.
Jason Cisper has signed a contract to play professional baseball for the Florence Freedom. The Freedom is a member of the Frontier League, which is an independent league. The Freedom finished fifth in the West Division with a 38-58 record last season.
After being ruled ineligible to play for NKU by the National Collegiate Athletics Association, Cisper has been participating as a first base coach and is in charge of the outfielders for the Norse this season.
Cisper went undrafted in the 2010 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft and received a contract offer from the Lake Erie Crushers, also a member of the Frontier League. He did not sign with the team because he decided to appeal for a fifth year of eligibility. Cisper’s freshman season at Miami University (Ohio), his original school, was cut short because of an injury. Before the 2011 season began, Cisper appealed to the NCAA to recieve a medical hardship, but the appeal was denied.
Since Cisper was not granted an extra year and with MLB teams already in spring training after the decision was made, he was forced to look elsewhere.
“I sent the Freedom an email and let them know of my current situation,” Cisper said. “Once they knew I was available, they were very interested in my abilities and they offered me a contract.”
The Norse are missing Cisper’s presence this year in a variety of ways, according to head coach Todd Asalon.
“He is missed in many ways both offensively and defensively,” Asalon said. “He hit for power and average and caused havoc on the bases. He was our lead-off hitter and set the table for our middle guys.”
Cisper played three seasons for the Norse from 2008 to 2010. He is currently third in program history in hits (235), sixth in batting average (.383), fifth in runs scored (150) and tied for sixth in stolen bases (60).
In 2010, he was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Year. He led the conference in hits (102), runs scored (75), doubles (26) and stolen bases (39). His hits and run scored totals were also NKU season records.
Cisper not only made his presence known on the field, but also played a leadership role, according to Asalon.
“Not only was he outstanding on the field, but he was a team captain and leader off the field,” Asalon said. “He’ll be remembered as a blue-collar worker who was always working to get better.”
Although the ruling by the NCAA cut Cisper’s NKU career shorter than he would have liked, Cisper will always have good memories as he looks back on his collegiate career.
“I will remember being a part of back-to-back GLVC Conference Championships, developing so many friendships that I will have the rest of my life and the 6 a.m. punishment runs my sophomore year,” Cisper said.
“I’ve never had more fun playing baseball than I have had while at NKU, and I’m going to cherish all of my memories for the rest of my life.”
As Cisper prepares for the next chapter in his life, he has no idea what the future holds for his baseball career.
“I know that I have always been told that I can’t play at the next level, whether it was going from high school to college or college to professional baseball,” Cisper said. “I’ve been able to prove all of those people wrong once, and I have no doubt that I will let my play and work ethic take care of those people again. I am very excited about the next stage of my baseball career and can’t wait to get it started.”
The Florence Freedom will begin their season on May 20. The Freedom play thier home games at Champion Window Field at 7950 Freedom Way in Florence, KY. Their games can be heard on 106.7 WNKR-FM. More information about the Freedom can be found at http://www.florencefreedom.com.
Story by Stephen Wilder