Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Listen Up NCAA

As student athletes pack up for their long journey to become collegiate ball players, we thought we would start back on our campaign to increase the number of scholarships that baseball players receive. A while back, we had a comment from one of our readers that helped give us the idea for today's post. His comment:

College baseball has a long way to have the panache and status that college basketball and college football have. If you have noticed most of the high school baseball players who have signed with MLB clubs have received the signing bonuses and a clause for future education money. I believe a majority of high school players would prefer to go to college, play ball, and get their education. The fact is (and here is the real fallacy and unfairness of college baseball) baseball players do not get full scholarships!!! Why does the media and web sites like yours not address the real problems with college baseball and the NCAA. Come on...11.7 scholarships to divide between 35 roster players, when football players (all on the roster) get full rides. When it gets down to it "money talks". Thank-you Rounding Third for letting me air my opinion.

We couldn't agree with him more. No doubt baseball has a long way to go to reach the heights of basketball and football. Even though college baseball's popularity is on the rise, there's so much more room to grow the game to new heights.

First of all, we bring this subject up because many of you parents and athletes out there will be obsessing over these issues the closer your sons dream of being a collegiate athlete becomes a reality. We know this because we have sons that are playing college ball or have played D-I. If there was a time for a change...now is the time...just when the college game is on the upswing. And, like the baseball players they recruit, the game has tremendous upside.

As we stated many times before, television coverage is increasing through ESPN, CSTV and FOX.. Web exposure via Gametracker and CSTV's online broadcast is a life saver for long distance parents unable to take a leisurely drive to see their son play like they did in high school. While more television exposure would help the sport from a exposure and financial standpoint...it's certainly not the end game.

There's a long list of improvements that we would like to make for the betterment of the college game. We started to write our loquacious version of what needs to happen until we stumbled upon an article written by Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com's college baseball site. Enjoy!

By Kendall Rogers Rivals.com

There's no question most coaches agree with the idea of a uniform start date. In its first test this past season, the uniform start date was welcomed with open arms. The timing of the start date? Not so much. I think everyone likes the idea of teams starting the season at the same time. However, many coaches believe the season should start two weeks earlier, leaving teams with more time to play 56 games. In the first season of the uniform start date, the condensed schedule caused a variety of issues.

Football, basketball and baseball are popular sports on the collegiate level, but you'd never know that by the way the NCAA treats each sport. Football and basketball generally have rules put in place to help the sports. Baseball is on the other end of the spectrum. Though it's true some Division I institutions still don't have baseball scholarships, the list is small. For now, baseball has a scholarship limit of 11.7. Several coaches have proposed the scholarship total be raised to 14.7, but we have our doubts that will change.

Most coaches I've spoken with this summer are relieved at the absence of transfers. Because of the new transfer rule, players must now sit out a year if they choose to transfer schools. For the smaller schools, the transfer rule has been a huge relief. No longer can the larger schools use the summer leagues and other avenues as recruiting zones. However, there are some losers in this situation. Sure, the transfer rule is a step in the right direction. But allowing no transfers is going too far. Therefore, we propose that players can transfer if the school they're leaving gives them a full release, regardless of conference affiliation. That certainly could keep larger schools from raiding smaller schools, while also giving players the ability to transfer.

The selection committee generally does a good job with the Regional host site selections, but the same can't be said about where they place teams. Nothing this past season was more disappointing than the Long Beach Regional, where the committee paired Long Beach State, San Diego, California and Fresno State together. Long Beach State won the Big West, San Diego won the WCC, Fresno State won the WAC and California was a very dangerous team. Amazingly, Fresno won the Regional as a four seed. They also won the national title. Though the NCAA won't come out and say it, they stack the West Coast teams for attendance purposes. That may be a plausible answer, but that doesn't mean it's right. The NCAA should adopt a Regional system that consists of a field of 64 equally spread out.

With college baseball gaining popularity, it's time to improve the television contracts. The SEC and ACC have respectable television contracts with many regular season contests and their respective conference tournaments on television. The same can't be said for the Big 12, Pac-10 and C-USA. If the sport wants to get over the biggest hump, better television contracts must be negotiated. ESPN does a good job with the Super Regionals and College World Series, but its coverage the other four months of the season is laughable. The sport must spread the wealth to succeed.


Anonymous said...

How about a fall season for college baseball? In the Northern climes, September and October are better to play in than March and April. TV viewing is higher than in the summer too.

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