D-I Start Date Still In Debate

By Staff

Coaching Management, 13.2, February 2005, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/cm/cm1302/bbstartdate.htm

A proposed plan to change the start and length of the NCAA Division I baseball season appears to be a minimum of two seasons away, possibly three. Unanimously approved by the Championships/Competition Cabinet in September, the proposal sits before the Management Council, which was slated to make a decision this past November but decided to hold off addressing the issue until the 2005-06 legislative cycle. As a result, a decision can’t be finalized until April 2006.

The four-part proposal features a Feb. 1 uniform start date for spring practices and a March 1 start date for competition, pushes back the College World Series one week along with regionals and super-regionals, and provides a 45-day window in October and November for fall practices. If approved in 2006, some coaches worry that it would leave little time to readjust their 2007 schedules.

“The current proposal has an implementation date of the 2007 season, but we’re surveying programs around the country right now to see if that is feasible,” says Dennis Farrell, Commissioner of the Big West Conference and Chair of the NCAA Baseball Issues Committee. “There is a possibility that we’ll have to wait until 2008 to implement anything.”

Because it is a four-part package, it is hard for every coach to agree on every part of the proposal. But the Baseball Issues Committee is adamant about keeping the proposal intact, saying that they won’t consider altering any individual components of the overall plan.

The most controversial part addresses the College World Series, which the committee originally wanted to delay two weeks, but settled on moving back one week. “If you moved it too late in the summer it was going to have a number of ramifications, including concerns about extended student-housing,” says Farrell. “If you didn’t move it at all, it would have compacted the season, which would have a lot of negative ramifications for scheduling and overall timing.”

The proposal was drawn up by the Baseball Issues Committee, which includes three institutional administrators, a coach from the Division I Baseball Committee, two administrators representing the Championships/Competition Cabinet, and four conference commissioners, and is charged with examining competitive equity, which has been a long-standing bone of contention between warm-weather and cold-climate schools.

“We drew up a proposal that we thought would have the best chance to pass, taking into consideration the factors of economic, academic, and competitive equity,” says Bob Todd, Head Coach at The Ohio State University and the only coach on the committee. “Eighty percent of the schools eligible for the NCAA tournament are affected by cold weather and don’t really have a clear opportunity to compete. To move the College World Series back would be advantageous to nearly every school.

“Would the advantage remain with the warm-weather schools?” continues Todd. “Absolutely, but we have to show people around the country that we are trying to equalize the competitiveness of the sport.”

For more information, see: www.ncaa.org and search “baseball start date.”