A WARMER SEASON?

By Staff

Athletic Management, 17.2, February/March 2005, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1702/wuwarmerseason.htm

Thirty-eight years after a Northern school last won the NCAA Division I College World Series, the issue of competitive equity between warm-weather and cold-climate schools may soon reach a point of action. A proposed plan to implement a start date for the NCAA Division I baseball season was passed by the Championships/Competition Cabinet and is now awaiting approval of the NCAA Management Council.

The four-part proposal features a Feb. 1 uniform start date for spring practices and a March 1 start date for competition. The baseball season currently has no consistent start date for either practices or games. The proposed plan also calls for playoff games and the College World Series to begin one week later, and provides a 45-day window in October and November for fall practices. Implementation is slated for the 2006-07 school year.

"This has been an issue among college coaches for nearly 30 years," says Bob Todd, Head Coach at The Ohio State University, the last champion from the Snow Belt (in 1966). Of the 40 teams that have played in the last 20 College World Series Championships, only three have been from the Midwest or the Northeast.

"Would the advantage remain with the warm-weather schools? Absolutely," says Todd. "But we have to show people that we are trying to equalize the competitiveness of the sport."

Many coaches from schools in Sun Belt states have resisted the proposed changes. They have voiced concerns about potential spectator drop-offs and increased costs of housing student-athletes after the school year is over.