Monday, February 21, 2011

Stanfords Mark Marquess Speaks Out On Cal Baseball

RT Staff Note: The following is an excerpt from Cal's biggest rival is Stanford. If Cal officials don't wake up from what seems like a Lost Weekend drug and alcohol binge, this could be the last year for this rivalry. Here's his comments:

Esquer's former coach at Stanford, Mark Marquess, lamented the loss of one of the conference's oldest programs at the Bay Area College Baseball Media Day in Palo Alto on Feb. 3, especially in the face of the overall health of the sport at the college level. Marquess launched as close to an invective as the reserved, veteran skipper ever has.

"I've done this a long time," said Marquess -- entering his 35th year at the Stanford helm. "I've seen college baseball, and been doing it for -- this is my 40th year -- and college baseball is as healthy and as strong as it's ever been. It's not even close. There are only two NCAA championships that make money, only two: basketball -- obviously -- and college men's baseball. The only two that come close to making money, and that's gate receipts, that's TV revenue, and the attendance at the College World Series and at the regionals is getting better and better.

"TV coverage, now you have the ACC, the Southeast Conference getting regular season games as part of the contract to be televised, and we all know that television is key to the exposure. It's kind of a secret, how successful college baseball is as a championship. You don't build a $125 million new stadium in Omaha unless you're successful, OK? You don't negotiate new TV contracts unless you're successful. College baseball is very successful. It's the future stars of Major League Baseball. In 2008, we're at the College World Series, and the starting catcher (for Florida State) and also a pitcher was Buster Posey. That was June of 2008. Where is he in June of 2010? Tim Lincecum from the University of Washington, a pretty good pitcher. Two years (after he's drafted), and where is he? Cy Young. Our product is great, but sometimes it's a big secret. It's not a secret to the college fans and it's not a secret to athletic directors who are spending millions of dollars to build new facilities. We're healthy.

"The sad part about that is -- and it's kind of ironic -- that the University of California, which has about 120 years of a rich baseball tradition, and I've done this long enough to remember George Wolfman and Jackie Jenson, and Bob Milano and David Esquer have carried on in that tradition, that's an elite baseball program with a lot -- a lot -- of tradition, not only academically with players graduating, but the success that they've had on the field. It's sad. It's sad that a program of that magnitude, that they will no longer sponsor baseball. It's a real shame. It's a slap in the face to our game of college baseball, especially at a time that we're very, very successful, and will continue to get successful, and California, with all their coaches and players, were a big part of that. That weighs heavily on all of us. We're obviously big rivals with Cal, but there's a lot of respect for the athletes and the coaches and the University. That's what college athletics is all about."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Opening Day Is Here!

Good luck to all College Baseball Fans and Players! Here's to a successful Season. This is our year fans..Go out and support your baseball team like never before.

Sports Illustrated Reports on Cal's Baseball Bungle by Barbour and Co.

Cal cuts baseball, leaving supporters with plenty of questions
By: Ann Killion

Last Friday, University of California officially dropped baseball, men's gymnastics
The decision-making process, rife with conflicting details, angered supporters

The anger could hurt Cal, which is relying on donors to fund several projects

For a premiere institution of higher learning -- one that should excel in the art of communication, information and problem solving -- the University of California has made a mess of things recently.

"We've been stonewalled and we've been misled," said Doug Nickle.

Nickle is a former Cal baseball player who has been spearheading the effort to save five intercollegiate sports teams that were slated for elimination. Last September, the university announced it was dropping baseball, men's rugby, men's and women's gymnastics and women's lacrosse.

Last Friday, the school reversed course and reinstated three sports. But baseball and men's gymnastics were not among those getting a reprieve.

The decision-making process, rife with conflicting numbers and confusing details, has left Cal and athletic director Sandy Barbour open to criticism and suspicion.

Nickle, whose effort raised somewhere between $12-13 million, said he was told the sports needed to be saved as a group. Now he accuses the school of cherry-picking from its donors. And though he's incredibly frustrated, he's not deterred.

"We're moving forward," Nickle said. "We've accomplished 3/5s of our goal."

By reinstating two women's sports -- just days after a New York Times story analyzed the severe Title IX implications of eliminating them -- the university has launched potential gender wars. And created the impression that it didn't do its Title IX math accurately back in September.

The school's assertion that baseball alone needs $10 million to survive baffles Nickle, who never heard that specific number until last Friday, despite meeting directly with Barbour. The numbers involved have been a moving target: Originally the school said it needed $80 million to save the sports, a number that later dropped to $25 million.

"They've been all over the place," Nickle said.

Supporters are left angry and with plenty of unanswered questions. Among them, what does Cal really want to do with Evans Diamond, a prime square of real estate located on the dense Berkeley campus, directly adjacent to Haas Pavilion?

Why, when the conference is on the verge of becoming the Pac-12, with a new television deal and new potential revenue streams, can't baseball be afforded the chance to survive until the new funds are in place?

"Why not telegraph your intentions?" Nickle said. "Why not tell everyone that you have a couple of years to raise the funds?"

Cal, like all public institutions in California, is facing a severe financial crisis. But Nickle points out that his group was effective in raising donations and pledges with little direction or support from the university in just four months.

However, he thinks Cal's actions could come back to hurt the school, which is relying heavily on donors to fund endowments as well as its ongoing $321 million retrofit of Memorial Stadium and the construction of a $150 million athletic high-performance center.

"There is such disgust in the community right now," Nickle said. "People feel they can't trust the management of their money. I've heard people threaten to pull out of the endowment project or the stadium project."

As recently as last year, an internal university committee found fault with the athletic department's inefficient finances and fundraising efforts.

Nickle said that lack of assurance has already affected one potential donor. The baseball team's most famous alumnus, Jeff Kent, has told Nickle he doesn't want to give any more money to the school he's supported over the years. Though Nickle said Kent has been active in trying to rally donors, he's indicated that he's not confident in how his money will be used.

"This is exactly the wrong message to be sending in an era when you have to rely on alumni and community," Nickle said. "Think what you could raise if you had people's confidence."

Nickle, who played in the majors for part of three seasons and professionally for eight years, will forge ahead. He hopes that Cal baseball can get its largest opening day attendance this Friday. The team will play in a tournament at AT&T Park next month that he believes can generate more attention for the cause.

"Time is of the essence," he said.

Read more:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

California...WAKE UP!!! Go See a College Baseball Game!

Three years ago, the University of Oregon announced it was adding baseball to it's increasingly competitive list of NCAA sports...and since that announcement, they have become a national role model for athletic departments across the country.

The Ducks hired George Horton, one of the most highly respected college coaches in the nation and built a brand new state-of-the-art stadium. They raided California and neighboring states for recruits and now, in just their third season, the Duck baseball team finds themselves in the enviable position of being ranked in the Top 10 in many pre-season polls.

The energetic, aggressive and focused athletic department that makes up the bulk of former AD Pat Kilkenny and new AD, Rob Mullins staff, knows what it takes to be successful and they have followed their lead to the letter.

In an economy that is witnessing more cuts than growth, Oregon sprinted forward, while showing surpluses and increased revenue along the way. That is due in part to both Kilkenny's and Mullens background.

Pat Kilkenny was hired on a two year contract to make Oregon athletics relevant. As head of Duck athletics, Kilkenny had reinstated baseball, launched a plan to build a new baseball stadium and hired highly respected baseball coach George Horton. In addition, he added women’s competitive cheer as a new UO sport, led efforts to build a $200 million basketball arena and helped create a Legacy Fund of private gifts to take Duck athletics from self-sufficient to self-sustaining.

Kilkenny's successor, Mullens, hired this past summer has a background in accounting and auditing, and he promoted sound fiscal management and self-sufficiency at the University of Kentucky. During his total of eight years at Kentucky, the athletic department’s operating budget expanded by nearly 70 percent. Fundraising for the department hit record levels each of the past seven years prior to his departure. The West Virginia native was senior athletics business manager at the University of Miami (Fla.) from 1994 to 1996, and prior to that he was an accountant/auditor at Ernst & Young in Raleigh, N.C.

Over the past decade, outright donations for the University's current operations routed to athletics have increased threefold.

According to data retrieved from the Council for Aid to Education, a New York City-based nonprofit established to conduct higher education policy research, the University's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics received $5.6 million worth of outright donations in 2000, increasing more than 200 percent to $18.1 million in 2010. Donations are projected to be well over $20 million in 2011.

California Athletic Departments Listen Up!!! If Oregon, with it's wet and chilly weather can do it, so can we!!!!

This Friday marks the opening day of the NCAA D-I Baseball Season nationwide. In California, from Sacramento to San Diego, 24 D-I teams take the field for a 56 game schedule with the hopes and dreams of taking on Omaha by seasons end.

And this year, more than ever, there's more to cheer for. Gone are the annoying Ping sounds of those minus three bats, one of the biggest criticisms of the game....While College baseball still uses metal, it's the dialed down BBCOR version this year and the crack of the bat is more natural...Look for exciting pitchers duals, small ball and of course the occasional bomb...this time hit by a true, square on the barrel power hitter, not a diminutive second baseman.

This is exciting college sports at its best!!! And this year, more than ever, Californians need to support college baseball.

The recent bungling of the Cal Athletic Department and it's horrible decision to cut baseball has sent an ominous message to the rest of the state...No non revenue generating sport is safe. And, unless we can make our sports self sustaining, they too can get axed.

But, the key words are non-revenue generating sports...There's no need for any of our states baseball programs to be non-revenue generating. Just about every team has multiple players that will be taken in this summer 2011 MLB draft and more than a few have the talent and ability to make a NCAA regional. California Collegiate baseball is extremely entertaining, doesn't cost an arm and a leg and if you are any kind of baseball fan, it's just the right thing to do right now, given recent circumstances.

Cal Administrators have created California College Baseball's Sputnik moment. It's now time for us to wake up and shoot for the moon in baseball attendance.

So get out there this Friday and support your local D-I team...They are relevant...They need your support...they deserve your patronage...They all have web sites and schedules. Just Google your local college's Athletics and click on the sport of baseball....print out that schedule and commit to going top at least 5-10 games this season. It will be an experience that will have long lasting rewards for college baseball for year to come.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's In Store For BBCOR

Everyone is freaking out about the impact the new BBCOR bats are going to have on the game...Here's what I think...The impact will be nothing that will hurt the excitement, entertainment value or integrity of the game...In will help re-boot the college game back into the real world of baseball.

I have been always a bit appalled by the gaudy batting averages and high scores of many games especially on Sunday and weekday match-ups. Now...we are going to see baseball like it ought to be...pitchers duals...small ball...and yes the occasional bomb from a legitimate power hitter, not the diminutive 2nd baseman. In other words...we will see the game mimic the way they play it in the pro's...or way college players play it in the summer collegiate leagues...where, by the way...places like Madison Wisconsin sell out almost every game watching college players use wood bats.

Yes, there will be a drop off in power numbers. I do not think the BBCOR bats, alone, will create the "huge impact"; those who play in "band boxes" and in warmer regions will see a drop-off bombs, but not so drastic as in areas like California where it is cool and damp at night and the ball parks are huge.

I am looking forward to this season...the beginning of real baseball.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CAL Baseball Rap

Despite the Cal baseball team being cut...the players banded together to make this video...What a great group of guys...Expect Cal to make huge waves this year and battle to make it to Omaha. Enjoy the video.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What A Mess! Cal Administrators Mislead Fund Raising Group.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle by John Crumpacker and Jake Curtis ran this morning and I think they missed an important point in the article concerning the fundraising efforts of Cal Baseball and the other sports...

First, let me start by saying that the effort to save the 5 sports was initiated by the Save Cal Baseball group, headed up by Doug Nickle...An excerpt from their web site states...

Cal Baseball Foundation, in conjunction with Men’s Rugby, Women’s Lacrosse, and Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics, have been given the directive by Chancellor Birgeneau to develop a sustainable financial plan to support the reinstatement of all five programs and to return the Cal Athletic Program to a strong financial footing, in full compliance with Title IX. This path is consistent with the path proposed by the Chancellor’s Committee: “Establish a four-year time frame for the Athletic Department to reach a goal of no more than a $5 million annual draw on campus funds by FY2014.”

Our coordinated plan is as follows, based on a cost estimate of $3.1 million per year for the five programs:

Raise $12.4 million to reinstate all 5 programs ($3.1 million/year for a period of 4 years):

$10 million in pledges by January 1, 2011

$2.4 million in pledges by January 1, 2012

Therefore, they went into this with the notion that this fund raising effort was an all or nothing effort... Doug and his group left nothing to chance...They created a web site...were in contact with the news media...and kept Cal officials informed...All information and the efforts of this group was held out there for all the public to see...including Cal officials...Nickles Groups entire game plan is spelled out on the web site

Now, here's my disconnect.....If Cal officials were honest about their willingness to work things out, which it seems they were not, they would have openly acknowledged this effort. And, more important, if it was not in step with what the university was looking for, they should have called or contacted the organizers and set them in the right direction.

Instead, Cal officials chose to take the sleazy road and without warning or a workable solution to help them along. They then decided to catch them off-guard by changing the rules of the game...This is now the second time they surprised all baseball officials involved (the first being September 28th) after a public announcement was made to kill the baseball program.

According to Nickle..."Cal Baseball has been scapegoated in this process. We’ve been told that we did not contribute enough to prove that Cal Baseball is a sustainable program. Save Cal Baseball has worked tirelessly on behalf of all 5 affected programs. While we know that Save Cal Baseball led the way in the Save Cal Sports effort, the University has turned it’s back on our efforts and is now shielding themselves behind the long-term implications of Title IX.

Sandy Barbour stated, "Rather than take an all or nothing approach, we worked in concert with the donors and were able to reinstate three teams that could be self supporting".

In addition to that statement being contrary to the very public efforts of the all or nothing approach...IT'S A TOTAL LIE!!! They did nothing to raise this money...NOTHING!!!!. All they did was count it and erroneously divided it up conveniently tied to each sport they felt the donors heart was tied to...The fact is, many of these donations were for all 5 programs and not specifically tied to one sport.

Remember, the entire effort was spearheaded by a very unselfish Save Cal Baseball group...It was their intention to save all five sports and that's how they sold it.

If you were a donor..and a group called Save Cal Baseball contacted you...wouldn't you assume that a portion of that money would also go to baseball???

According to Nickle, "Instead of working with us, the University has decided to move forward without us. The University today stated that Cal Baseball needed to have raised $10 million dollars for baseball to have been reinstated. Why didn’t they communicate this to us before today? Why now would they finally give us a target, only after they’ve made their second wrong decision? If they had, Cal Baseball could have worked unilaterally and raised enough money to bring baseball back. But the University was not truthful with us and they changed the rules throughout this process. We did the right thing in working for all five sports. The University failed us."

Yes, they did fail not only the storied Cal baseball program, but the integrity of Cal sports in general. If I was a recruit in any sport, I wouldn't trust this athletic department...As a parent, I would never send my kid to this school. They have proven that they can't be trusted.

ONE MORE THING...According to ESPN "Birgeneau said he did not believe the announcement in September was premature, even though three of the programs were eventually retained. He said he sent a message to athletic department supporters 16 months ago that the cuts might be necessary and little was done to retain them until the announcement was made. "My message engendered virtually no response for an entire year," he said. "The responses only came after the announcement of the cutting of sports. These sports had a full year to raise funds. But until the actual reality of no longer continuing the varsity sports was on the table, it was not until then that we got this wonderful response that we got now."


If in fact this message was sent to athletic department supporters...that would mean that the possibility of the programs being cut was available prior to the National Letter of Intent signing dates of this years freshman athletes in baseball and men's gymnastics...Cal administrators would have then been obligated to disclose this information to top recruits prior to signing their NLI's in the early signing period in November of 2009 and the regular signing periods that occur in February 2010 through the summer. It has been stated by Mr. Birgeneau that this information had been passed on 16 months ago...Therefore, it should have been communicated to the recruits that the elimination of these sports may have been a possibility.

This was not done and athletes and recruits were misled by the University. If I was a parent of a freshman athlete, I would be joining forces with every Gymnastics and Baseball family and would take the steps of filing a class action lawsuit against the university.