Bitterbaum addresses sudden death of SUNY Cortland student

Nicolas De La Pava

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter from SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum addressed to the SUNY Cortland community.

To the SUNY Cortland Community,

It is with deep sadness that I must inform the SUNY Cortland community of the tragic passing of Nick De La Pava ’17, a former Red Dragon football player and dean’s list student.

Nick, who had successfully pursued his dreams of entrepreneurship and opened WiseGuys Barbershop in Shrub Oak, N.Y. soon after his graduation, was killed Aug. 7 in a motorcycle accident in Danbury, Conn. He was 23.

Nick was a remarkable young man, and I know Nick’s football teammates, his coaches and professors, and all members of the campus community who knew him or experienced his energy and positivity feel this loss profoundly. Friends may leave an online message of condolence or describe a fond memory on the funeral home website. You may also contribute to his family’s effort to create a scholarship fund in his name.

As a Red Dragon, Nick played tight end and was a member of the 2015 team that played in the NCAA Division III national playoffs. At Cortland, he created his own major in the School of Professional Studies, merging courses in sport management, business economics, communications and entrepreneurism to build an education that would help him develop new businesses and make his mark as an entrepreneur. Nick wasted no time realizing those ambitions, becoming an independent business owner in June 2017 — one month after graduation.

Nick also served on the Student Government Association’s seven-member financial board and was a development intern for Cowley Associates Inc., in Syracuse.

Head Football Coach Dan MacNeill said this about his former player: “Nick was a super teammate. As with all Red Dragons, he will be part of us forever. We are about service, solutions and success. Nick epitomized all of those attributes as a student and as a warrior. His presence remains, and his embrace will be missed.”

As an institution, we are honored to be able to count Nick as one of our own. And, as an institution and as individuals, we are diminished by his loss.

All the best,

Erik J. Bitterbaum
President, SUNY Cortland