Delmonico's fuming

The Tennessee baseball team has been penalized 1.17 scholarships by the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate index and Vols coach Rod Delmonico is livid.

He doesn't believe the formula is fair for a sport that he says is unique in college.

Delmonico said more than 300 junior baseball players were drafted last season by Major League Baseball, compared to fewer than 100 combined in football and men's basketball. He also pointed out that in baseball, you can transfer to another school without having to sit out a year, unlike in football and basketball.

Those two factors make baseball rosters more transient and make complying with the APR more difficult.

If you transfer or go pro early, that counts one point against the sport. If you leave and are not in good academic standing, that counts two points, and it's the two-point penalty that is a killer.

Delmonico said a number of college baseball coaches are upset about the APR but he said they don't have a plan in place to counter the current policy.

They'll need one, because the APR isn't going away. Perhaps the baseball coaches could argue that rather than score a 925 to avoid being stripped of scholarships, baseball's number should be lowered to 875 or 850. That would help offset the high number of transfers and early departures for pro baseball.

Tennessee men's athletic director Mike Hamilton can sympathize with Delmonico.

``I do think baseball is affected differently than other sports because of the junior draft and transfers being able to play immediately (at another school),'' Hamilton said. ``Baseball is the one that stands out above all other sports and it's the one that will continually be discussed nationally.''

So, how do you deal with the issue?

``What we have to do is recruit kids who want to be at Tennessee and hopefully, we lose a minimum number of guys to transfer, understanding that at a program like Tennessee, you're going to lose some players to the draft,'' Hamilton said.

That doesn't sound like a solution. Kids wouldn't have signed with Tennessee if they didn't want to be at Tennessee. And if you sign a kid who isn't playing, most likely he'll want to transfer. If you sign a kid good enough to help you win a championship, most likely, he'll be drafted after his junior season.

After Tennessee made the College World Series last year, the Vols lost juniors Eli Iorg, Chase Headley, Luke Hochevar and Josh Alley to pro baseball. They lost seven other underclassmen for a variety of reasons.

After next year, catcher J.P. Arencibia, pitcher James Adkins and outfielder Julio Borbon likely will be drafted. If offered the right amount of money, they'll turn pro.

What's a Delmonico to do?

Hamilton suggested that ``as we move through the process and coaches begin to find out what it means to succeed in the realm of APR, we may see some different philosophies as it relates to recruiting.''

What does that mean? Signing players who aren't likely to be drafted after their junior season? Signing more local players? Signing fewer junior college players? Signing players more interested in academics? Perhaps all of the above.

Hamilton would like to see a uniform policy as it relates to pro drafts. In baseball, you don't declare; you simply get picked sometime in June. Then you decide your future based on what you're offered.

In football and basketball, if you're an underclassman, you declare for the draft.

``I'd certainly like to see the drafts uniformed but I don't know that we'll ever get to that,'' Hamilton said. ``Most of it is established by the (pro) leagues, not the NCAA.''

While Tennessee was penalized in baseball, it is close to incurring scholarship reductions in swimming, tennis and – egads! – football.

``The goal when a student-athlete comes here is, we certainly want them to have a great athletic experience and compete for a championship, but the other part of the equation is to go to class and hopefully leave here with a degree or be able to return here and get a degree without much more work,'' Hamilton said.

To hope the APR is rescinded is a pipe dream.

``The reality is the APR train is out of the station and we're going to have the APR,'' Hamilton said. ``That's not something negotiable anymore.

``What's still out there as an option is how we may be able to, I don't want to say manipulate the system – that's too strong of a word – but be able to deal with the APR and bring potential changes to the APR that make sense within the NCAA guidelines,'' Hamilton said.


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