Archive for the 'College Baseball Economics' Category

New York Times Article on the Metrodome and Other News

Metrodome Interior

My thanks to Dave Kincaid for drawing my attention to yesterday’s New York Times article about the importance of the Metrodome for college baseball in the upper Midwest – Winter Ball Never Sleeps or Shivers at Metrodome.  It’s a very good read (it is the New York Times after all) and details the nearly non-stop usage of the facility from February through April.

Ron Petrich, now an assistant professor of education at Augsburg, a small Minneapolis college, doubles as the scheduler and matchmaker for college baseball games at the Metrodome. Since 1984, he has kept the Dome humming with games, practices and scrimmages almost around the clock from February through April, when winter finally eases. The Metrodome may have said goodbye to major league baseball, but for now, it remains a Teflon-roofed lifesaver for more than 100 college, high school and other amateur teams throughout the upper Midwest.

And no more so than this winter. In February, Petrich said, he was receiving five or six calls a day from coaches with snow-covered fields as far away as Kansas and Illinois. That made for some creative scheduling.

As I’ve lamented here before (Northern Sun – Winter Games) it’s going to be very difficult on a lot of college baseball teams if they tear down the Metrodome to make way for a new Vikings stadium.

Other News

The Northern Sun Baseball Blog was recognized by as one of the 100 Best College Sports Blogs in the country.  I have no idea who they are and I see it’s a new site but they lumped me in with a bunch of better known sites so it’s always nice to get some recognition.

The NCAA updated their D2 Blog today and chronicled some of the teams in Division 2 baseball that had the best weeks to move them up in the national polls – Not Aiken For Wins

Finally, Northern Sun fans of NSIC’s top teams are always reminded to keep one eye on what’s happening with the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference who shares the Central Region with the NSIC.  The RMAC is already 3 weeks into their Conference season.  New Mexico Highlands is the only team getting national recognition.  These 2 Conference’s send 6 teams combined to the NCAA Regional Tournament so the NSIC should be hoping for at least 3 bids – RMAC Week 7 Update

Stories From Around NCAA College Baseball


Time to catch up on stories from around NCAA college baseball as school approaches. 

  • As a follow up to my last story about the NCAA banning composite bats (NCAA Rule Changes) the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP) did approve the plan to put a temporary ban on composite bats – PROP Approves Action on Composite Bats
  • I wrote some last year about the demise of college baseball at D1 schools Vermont and Northern Iowa.  In fact, colleges across the country have eliminated 227 different sports teams in the past 3 years.  This summer, the University of Wisconsin La Crosse made a similar threat to shut down their D3 baseball program.  Fortunately, the school allowed boosters to fund raise the $50k needed to save the program for now which has happened.  You can read about the effort and publicity that saved UWL baseball here – Save UW La Crosse Baseball Site
  • Something I missed back during the D2 College World Series was this blog by a Dowling pitcher about his experience during the event.  It is quite well written – “This morning was truly an awakening of the senses, as it was surely the first and best day of all our baseball careers to date.”  You can find it here – A Pitcher’s Perspective
  • Finally, I saw this interesting piece from the Collegebaseball360 Blog.  As the father of a pitcher and a youth baseball coach I’ve long been concerned about pitch counts.  Many of you may have heard about the 25 inning D1 playoff game between Texas and Boston College – Texas closer Austin Wood received a lot of well deserved national attention for his 13 inning effort in the Longhorn’s 25-inning win over Boston College in the Austin Regional. However, Wood was not the same after that outing that saw him throw nearly 140 pitches. In his two combined Regional outings Wood totaled 15.0 IP with 2 hits, 4 BB, 17 strikeouts and no runs allowed. However, in his six appearances after the famed 13-inning outing here are the lefty’s numbers: 11 IP, 16 hits, 10 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, with a 6.54 ERA. Wood made his nation-leading 41st appearance of the season when he toed the rubber for the last time in the final game of the CWS vs. LSU.  CWS – Before & After.  Boyd’s World Website does a good job of calling out schools that abuse pitchers here – D1 Pitch Count Watch

NCAA Sticks It To D1 Baseball’s Northern Teams

NCAA Baseball Logo

Two weeks ago I wrote about how the NCAA Division 1 Legislative Council was considering 2 proposals that could have a bearing on Division 1 college baseball (NCAA Considers D1 Proposals) –

  • 2008-46 – Would add a 14th week to the college baseball season (front end or back end)

  • 2008-48 – Would reduce the number of allowable baseball games from 56 to 52

    It is being reported that the NCAA is going to go forward with adding a 14th week to the season.  The bad news for all Northern Teams?  They’ve gone ahead and bowed down to the Southern schools and are adding the week to the beginning of the season.  NCAA Set To Add Week To Schedule

    This is a huge deal because it forces Northern schools into another week of travel and expense if they want to play a full slate of games against quality competition which allows them to get better consideration for post-season play.  It basically is a total cop out to the big Southern schools who have most of the power in NCAA D1 college baseball and makes it that much harder for Northern schools to compete (athletically and financially). 

    Big Ten Hardball had an excellent commentary on this subject and I urge anyone interested in the topic to read it – Big Ten Hardball – NCAA Adds Week

    We’ve already seen programs in Northern Iowa and UMass call it quits for their D1 baseball programs this year.  Could more follow and make college baseball even more of a regional sport?

  • NCAA D2 College Baseball Proposal Advancing

    NCAA Baseball Logo

    The NCAA has been considering a number of changes within Division 2 athletics that would reduce the playing and/or practice time of various sports.  As I reported here (NCAA Recommending Reductions in College Baseball Season) and here (D2 Baseball and Shorter Season) the D2 Management Council was taking up these issues before advancing them to higher level decision makers within the NCAA.

    These proposals have now advanced to the NCAA Division II President’s Council who will take up the issue this week on Wednesday and Thursday.  It was the President’s Council who started this whole thing in January –

    The Presidents Council charged the Division II Legislation and Championships Committees in January to recommend ways in which the division’s playing and practice seasons legislation could be modified to better align with the Division II strategic-positioning platform. In essence, the presidents were asking the division’s governance structure for a gut-check on whether the division’s sports interests were skewing the academics/athletics balance stated in the platform.

    It’s all well and good to go talking about “academic balance” but the real reason for these potential changes is in a paragraph further down –

    The exercise also coincides with the division’s attempt to seek better business practices to ease fiscal pressure during the current downward economic trend.

    As usual, it’s all about the money. 

    It seems like D2 schools are only looking at the expense side.  I’m guessing that “most” Division 2 college baseball programs give anywhere from 2-5 equivalent scholarships plus the expense of running a program (travel, coaches, equipment, recruiting).  Still, if there are 30+ kids attending your school to play baseball (and attend school) what is the total amount of tuition that those students bring in?  How many of them would be at your school if it weren’t for the baseball program?  I don’t think my son would be attending the school he’s going to if it weren’t for the baseball program.  My $16k+/year (no financial aid) goes straight into the school’s bank account – all for the pittance of a baseball scholarship they offer that at best covers his books.

    NCAA President’s Council to engage in Playing Season Debate

    NCAA Recommending Reductions in D2 College Baseball Games Played

    NCAA Baseball Logo

    While visiting the site this morning I came across a small news item that says “Management Council to continue playing season discussion” (NCAA Management Council Item).  What is talks about is that the NCAA is considering proposals to reduce the length of season and number of contests in a number of sports.  I thought I better check this out further to see the impact on D2 college baseball.

    Digging deeper, the Management Council has their upcoming April 20-21 meeting agenda online including links to their Supplements with the notes about their recommendations.  Supplement number 28 is the background document they are distributing to discuss changes to seasons and practice schedules.  NCAA Management Council Supplement 28

    The reason for these discussions is stated here –

    The positioning statement of the platform focuses on the “balance and integration” of “academic achievement, learning in high-level athletic competition and development of positive societal attitudes in service to the community.” The Presidents Council has asked whether student athletes are spending too much time practicing and competing on the field, pool or mat to achieve and maintain this balance.

    Based upon these discussions, the NCAA is considering 2 different scenario options –

    1. Reducing the maximum number of Division 2 college baseball games from 56 to 50.  This option is their recommendation under BOTH options.
    2. Under 1 of the options, they are proposing a change in the start date of D2 college baseball.  Option 2 leaves it at February 1st, but Option 1 uses a start date of the second Thursday in February.  That would be Feb 11 in 2010 and Feb 10 in 2011.
    3. Neither scenario is currently making recommendations to change the fall practice period, preseason start date (January 10 or first day of classes) or the D2 Championship dates.

    It sounds like the Management Council is still seeking input from Athletic Directors and Conference Commissioners so there’s certainly a chance that things will change before the summer when it will become more finalized.

    UNI Baseball Officially Folds Amid Controversy

    The University of Northern Iowa’s Division 1 college baseball team will officially end it’s 103 year run as a school supported team at the end of 2009.

    The school had made this announcement back in February (UNI Drops Baseball) but a grass roots group emerged, Support UNI Baseball, which was given an opportunity to save the sport if they could raise $1.2M in a little over a month from private donations.  Last week it was announced that the campaign failed to reach its goal and fund raising ended.

    This result came amid a number of heated and controversial meetings between the group (which included UNI’s baseball head coach) on one side and the school President and Athletic Director on the other side.  The Support UNI Baseball group had received commitments for $250,000 and was asking that the school contribute $100,000.  The group then committed to keep fund raising the same amount each year until it reached the fully sustaining amount needed.

    The grassroots group came away disappointed by the process and wrote a scathing summary of their failure here – Committee Criticizes UNI Decision to Drop Baseball

    It’s an interesting read and goes into the behind the scenes efforts and negotiations that took place in order to try and save the team.

    College Baseball News of Note

    Night Gathering

    Here are some of the college baseball stories that have caught my eye over recent days that I thought you might like to take a look at –

    • As reported back in late February, the University of Northern Iowa announced that they were dropping college baseball (UNI Drops Baseball).  Now the University is holding out hope that they can fund raise enough donations to keep the program alive.  They are looking to raise $1.2 Million dollars in pledges by April 5th in order to save baseball which has been played at the school for the past 103 years.  You can view their progress or make a donation here – Support UNI Baseball
    • Rivals does a very good job of covering college baseball.  They recently published their Top 100 High School Prospects.  It’s interesting that all but 1 of them is already committed to a school for next year (of course this is before MLB could draft and sign them).  I was struck by how few of the Top 100 came from northern schools.  I counted 1 kid each from IL, IA, MI, KS and IN but the rest of them all come from the south.  It’s no wonder that northern schools struggle to compete as both the weather and talent pool gives the south a decided advantage.  Rivals Top 100 High School Prospects
    • The Minnesota High School baseball season kicks off in 2 short weeks.  A large number of Northern Sun players come out of Minnesota so it’s worth keeping track of the top teams.  The MN Coaches Association has published their pre-season rankings for 2009.  Minnesota Preseason High School Rankings

    Northern Iowa Drops Baseball Program


    The University of Northern Iowa officially announced today that they are dropping their college baseball program effective at the end of the 2009 season.  The Panthers made the decision after projecting a large cut in their athletic department funding due to current economic conditions and cutbacks in state government funding.  Northern Iowa is a Division 1 program that plays in the Missouri Valley Conference.  A conference that is known for a strong baseball tradition.

    University of Northern Iowa Official Announcement

    Des Moines Register Story – AD Had Pledged to Save Program

    Earlier this weekend, the University of Vermont had also had announced that they were eliminating both their baseball and softball programs due to economic conditions.  The Catamounts are also a Division 1 program.  Vermont Announces Athletic Department Reorganization

    One has to wonder how long it will be before the fallout turns into a full fledged free-fall in all of college athletics.  Based upon these 2 schools, it looks like college baseball is definitely one of the more vulnerable programs where cuts will be considered.

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