In late May Brendan Staudt initially broke news on InLaxWeTrust.com that midfielder Rob Pannell would be forgoing graduating and would instead apply for a medical redshirt. On August 2, the Cornell Department of Athletics and Physical Education announced that Pannell has been granted a fifth-year eligibility waiver through the Ivy League Office. He will return to East Hill to play for the Red and to complete degree requirements in the spring 2013 semester.
Pannell exploded out of the gates in the first game of the spring 2012 season, notching 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) against visiting Binghamton and contributing to a 17-12 victory for the Red. The senior captain and midfielder seemed on par to have a strong final year with the Red; however, in the second game of the season against Army on March 3, Pannell suffered an injury to his left foot — despite contributing 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) to Cornell’s 18-7 landslide.
He underwent surgery to mend the broken bone; however, he was never able to return to the lineup. The captain transformed his position of leadership for the Red from a hands -on role of leading by example on the field to being a mentor to the underclassmen from the sidelines.
“My goal from the moment that I got hurt was to return to the team during the 2012 season. I was told that I could be back in 6-8 weeks and I pushed myself, hoping that would be the case, but I think that was an overly optimistic timeframe,” Pannell said in a statement. “I ended up reinjuring my foot while rehabbing and at that point it became clear that I could not return to the team. In evaluating my future, my family and I decided that there are many academic opportunities at Cornell that would better prepare me for a job, so I have chosen to pursue them. I adjusted my academic plan with the University and will return to Cornell in Spring 2013 to complete degree requirements, fulfill a second Applied Economics and Management specialization in strategy, and play lacrosse. In the end, there were many other options out there, but Cornell is home to me and I want to finish what I started.”
According to the rules of the Ivy League, eligibility to play beyond four calendar years requires approval by the Executive Director. Other factors that affect approval include the student having an academic enrollment plan that is approved by institutional academic officials.
“Our coaching staff is ecstatic that Robert and his family have decided that it is in his best interest to pursue this course of action,” said head coach Ben DeLuca, The Richard M. Moran Head Coach of Men's Lacrosse. “Robert is one of the best leaders and students that I've had the privilege to work with during my time at Cornell. He is a tremendous role model both on and off the field and he has been a phenomenal ambassador for the sport of lacrosse, the Cornell Lacrosse family, our University and the Ivy League.”
Pannell is a three-time All-American, a two-time USILA National Attackman of the year and a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year. At the time of his injury, the 2011 USILA National Player of the Year was averaging 8.0 points per game, recording seven goals and nine assists in two games. He ranks second all-time in Cornell history in assists (149), is third overall in points (252) and sixth overall in goals (103).