Thursday, October 23, 2008

Write the NCAA

We received over one hundred e-mails from readers that have given us their viewpoint on the future of college baseball. Some suggestions were great, some absurd, but all of the e-mails had one theme.

College baseball needs more scholarships.

We remember when our sons first started the process years ago. We were at at tournament and a speaker at one of parent meetings stated that baseball only gives 11.7 scholarships. We were shocked at the amount of scholarship money available. I even remember a bunch of dads trying to rationalize this bit of information and thinking that surely he meant 11.7 scholarships were given to new freshman and transfer recruits.

Of course, we later found out that it was the number of scholarships for the entire team. It was disheartening to say the least and a poor assumption on our part and partially why we decided to start this web site. We felt compelled to make sure everyone was made aware of all nuances of collegiate ball and never be as naive as we were when we started our sons along the path.

With permission from our readers that sent e-mails, here are some of their comments and suggestions:

John from Germantown, TN:
Baseball is one of the hardest sports to master and it takes a special mindset to come to the realization that failing at something 7 times out of 10 makes you a huge success and one hit either way is the difference between a short career and the Hall of Fame. It takes a special person, a freakish dedication and long, long hours of work to realize how great this sport is. The kids that reach that realization are the players on those college teams. They are the ones giving it more effort, more passion and more heart than any sport on this planet. And they are getting the least amount of love from the NCAA and the colleges.

Baseball is a major sport in this country. It has more tradition than basketball and football. It has more passionate fans. Why can't the NCAA see this? Why aren't ALL colleges on board? I see a huge divide between the northern schools and the southern schools. The schools in C-USA like Rice, Houston, East Carolina, UTEP etc., get it. They have invested money into their facilities and promote their programs. Some of the northern schools that Memphis plays treat baseball as an afterthought. You can see it in their facilities, their players attitudes, their low turnouts at ball games. They don't seem to care. Yet, from what I am hearing, it's these northern schools that are crying foul and holding college baseball back.

Here's a bit of advice. If there are any colleges out there that complain that they can't compete, spend the money and make it happen. Many schools like East Carolina didn't always compete, but they made it happen. My son will be attending one of those C-USA schools to play ball soon. College baseball needs more scholarships. It would be nice if he could get rewarded for all of the passion, dedication and heart he put into this game.

Ed from Chandler, AZ
I have always wondered why baseball players in the majors were not ever identified with their college that they attended. Maybe it's because there are still a lot of players that didn't go to college and they didn't want them to feel bad. But, if colleges would increase their scholarships, making baseball a fully funded sport like football, more high school baseball players would opt for college rather than the pros. You'd even have a few International players, like you do in basketball and track applying to universities in the U.S too. I think that would be great for the game. It strengthens the core of the college fan base and the major league fan base.

I went to U of A and although I live in the Phoenix area, I follow all of the Wildcats sports religiously, including baseball. I am proud that Trevor Hoffman, Gilbert Arenas and Tedy Bruschi went to U of A. I watch college sports to see who the next pro star will be. As much as I like baseball, I haven't seen that passion in the college game as much. It's getting better, but it has a long way to go.

I would like nothing more than to see all future pros in baseball get their education in life and in baseball from college. But to do that the NCAA will have to award the colleges that care and give them the opportunity to give out more money to recruits. The colleges that can't afford to fully fund need to make a decision. Get in or get out. But those northern schools can't continue to hold back the rest of college baseball because they can't hack it.

Mark from Columbia, SC
I am writing the NCAA thanks! Baseball is big here in South Carolina, but football is bigger. However, I think baseball would be a lot bigger if the scholarship money was the same as football. I can tell you that our baseball players here are more dedicated to their sport than football players. The play more and they work harder. I don't understand why the colleges don't complain.

Clemson and South Carolina draw near sell-outs to their games. The Gamecocks new stadium will be unbelievable and is really stirring up excitement in this town. Somebody is going to make money off of that new stadium. It should all go to the players that made it happen!!!

Don from Nashville
A comment on your web site mentioned David Price. He has done a lot for this Vanderbilt baseball program no doubt. Vanderbilt is taking advantage of that and building upon their successes in baseball. The program here is growing because it has to. The rest of the SEC is nuts about their college baseball. And yes, it is VERY DISTURBING why college baseball won't raise its scholarship limits now! This is a prime time to give this sport a boost. NCAA baseball is on the rise. I see it here, in the newspapers, on TV. Like you said, it is Americas past time.

Jon from Buena Park, CA
I think the NCAA feels that families of baseball players have the money and don't need scholarships. That couldn't be farther from the truth. I know a group of guys that has tried to organize a national tournament down in Southern California, but they just couldn't get anyone from the East to attend. The cost of travel an hotels is too much to handle for a lot of teams and their families. So, if a West Coast team wants to play a Florida, Texas or Georgia team, we have to go there.

Believe me, it's a stretch for a lot of families to come up with that kind of money. It doesn't seem right that in order to get a baseball scholarship, a family has to dig deep into their pocket to go to showcases, tournaments and camps. They have to play on a elite team and pay money that they sometimes don't have. When their sons get an offer, the families find out that they have to pay even more for college than the stretched out budget they had to endure in the summer teams they were on. It's a convoluted system. While some have planned well enough and have a college fund, there are many that don't. Many sports families seem to fall into this category for whatever reason.

Maybe the lesson learned here is for all families to save for college no matter what. Or, maybe the powers that be in College baseball should realize that it's always been the rule that athletes get rewarded for their efforts. You are right in that college baseball is on the rise. If that is the case, scholarships should rise with it.

There were many more e-mails that basically said the same thing. These were the best of the bunch. Do you agree with these readers? Then write the NCAA. All of their information is to the right of this column under NCAA contact information.

RT Staff


Jerry Evans said...

I sent an e-mail too! I just don't think you guys are understanding that the NCAA is only interested in total the total buy-in strategy. There are dozens of Division I northern schools that can't justify the cost of fully funding it's 11.7 scholarships. What makes you think that they would consider raising the scholarship limits and widen that gap?

Maybe the solution is to create two tiers of collegiate baseball. Teams in the southern and western states along with some serious northern schools like Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan and others can compete in the Omaha division. (This is basically the way it is now, 64 teams and theoretically better competition.) The rest of the colleges that are unwilling to invest in facilities or funding their programs can compete in the something similar to basketballs NIT. No shame in this, but you get what you pay for.

Rounding Third Staff said...


Don't think the NCAA will like that idea. We think that many of the northern universities need to re-prioritize and invest to take advantage of baseballs incredible growth. IF that happens, then yes, we think the NCAA and the colleges have no choice but to raise scholarship limits.