Baseball Not A Serious Concern for Higher Ups

There's been a lot of talk in baseball circles this week about newly passed rules that will affect the sport and what implications they might have for different teams, but the bottom line is that baseball is not taken seriously by the Southeastern Conference or by the NCAA, and nothing is being done to change it for the better.

That might be tough to swallow for coaches in the SEC. For example, Florida's head coach, Pat McMahon, said Thursday that college baseball enjoys an all-time high level of support and that he was encouraged about the direction the sport is heading.

So if anyone cares besides baseball coaches, why is there still scholarship disparity among the schools wich want to be competitive? And why are there ties and travel curfews in SEC baseball games? Why do you never hear a peep out of an athletics director, or a commissioner or an NCAA big-wig about making baseball fairer across the board?

The Southeastern Conference wants to take its money from the Southeastern Conference Tournament every year and run. Mike Slive doesn't lose one wink of sleep over complaints of inequity among SEC teams.

So the NCAA put in new restrictions, but baseball still has the allotment of a measly 11.7 scholarships to attract players. Or as Mississippi State Coach Ron Polk told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, "They give us chump change to work with, and now they're telling us how to spend the chump change. The NCAA is out to get us. They've declared war on us."

Perhaps the governing body isn't declaring war, but it's certainly not doing anything to help the sport. Nor is the SEC. And there haven't be any athletics directors very vocal about bringing equality to baseball.

Some of baseball's disparity comes from lottery scholarship states. More can come from players receiving other non-athletics related aide, but who just happen to be star baseball players. When Bear Bryant tried to use such a system to his advantage in football, the rules were quickly changed to even out the maximum allowable number of scholarships. The same goes for basketball, too.

One rule passed this week requires players to be eligible for the fall semester in order to compete in the following spring. The new changes also prohibit a player from transferring without sitting out a year, limit the roster size to 35 players, require that no more than 27 of those be on scholarship at any one time and require each player who is on scholarship to get a minimum of one third scholarship.

Alabama head coach Jim Wells currently has more than a handful of players on book scholarships, which is less than the one third that will now be mandated.

"We have a lot of kids that are on less than 33 per cent, and you question where that reasoning came from," Wells said. "And it really hasn't seemed to help the situation" of schools being on a non-level playing field in terms of scholarships.

Even McMahon, who was a member of the committee that decided on these rule changes, couldn't explain the reasoning behind the 33 per cent rule, although he did say he had been opposed to it.

All of the ramifications are unclear to coaches, but what is clear is that none of the moves indicated a desire for anyone above the level of coach to take the sport more seriously.


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