West Virginia coach pushing April start for college baseball
The college baseball season would run from April to August instead of the traditional February to June under an ambitious plan by West Virginia coach Randy Mazey.
Mazey has been working on the idea for years, but it has drawn increased attention because of the cold wave that has caused scheduling havoc the first two weeks of the season even for teams in the South.
“It’s a screaming reminder of, ‘What the heck are we doing playing right now?‘” Mazey said Monday from Morgantown, where the temperature was in single digits and 4 inches of snow covered the Mountaineers’ new field.
Mazey said the NCAA’s new governance structure, which gives more autonomy to the five most powerful conferences, make this a good time to change the baseball calendar. Mazey would need a conference to submit his proposal into the NCAA legislative process.
American Baseball Coaches Association executive director Craig Keilitz said Mazey raises good points, but the proposal ranks behind scholarship rules and other issues on the coaches’ list of priorities.
Mazey said starting in April and playing through the summer would increase ticket revenue and possibly television coverage. Other benefits: decreasing the amount of money northern programs spend on travel in February and March; reducing missed class time and raising four-year graduation rates because players would be enrolled in summer school; and cutting the number of injuries associated with playing in the cold.
Mazey said he’s surveyed coaches at Power 5 programs and that more than half, to varying degrees, support his idea.
However, drafted players, especially those whose teams make the NCAA tournament, would have to hold off signing with major league teams that selected them in June.
An agreement also would have to be reached with ESPN to move the College World Series from June to August. Summer leagues would lose their supply of Division I players.
Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said he would favor pushing the season back two weeks, to the first week of March, but he wouldn’t want to play past the Fourth of July because that would interfere with prime recruiting time.
North Carolina coach Mike Fox said he likes Mazey’s idea.
“I don’t know if it’ll gather enough momentum,” Fox said, “but I’m in favor of playing in warm weather.”
A look around the nation:
FLORIDA’S FINE FEBRUARY: Florida, which started 5-5 last season, is ranked as high as No. 2 this week after winning two of three at home against Miami to improve to 6-1. Dane Dunning is taking ownership of his spot as a weekend starter. He pitched five no-hit innings in Sunday’s 2-1 win.
OFFENSIVE BRUINS: UCLA is averaging 10.8 runs and batting .342 during its 6-1 start. Lest anyone think the big numbers UCLA put up against Hofstra in its season-opening series were a mirage, the Bruins scored 40 runs and batted .331 while taking two of three from North Carolina in Orlando, Florida.
BULLDOGS ON REBOUND? A series win over Florida State shows progress is continuing at Georgia in coach Scott Stricklin’s second year. The Bulldogs swept a doubleheader Sunday from a Seminoles team that was ranked as high as No. 11.
KNIGHTS ON RISE: UCF has knocked off nationally ranked Arkansas and Maryland while starting 7-0, and the schedule only gets harder with 2014 College World Series qualifier and No. 18 Mississippi visiting Orlando for three games this weekend and a home-and-home with Florida next week.
BOILER MAGIC: Purdue, which has won only 13 and 17 games the past two years, had reason to feel good about itself after sweeping a doubleheader from Sam Houston State on Saturday. The Boilermakers won 4-3 in 12 innings and 9-7. The kicker: they were tied or behind after 19 of the 21 innings.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Kevin Newman of Arizona had a walk-off steal of home to top Rice 7-6 on Saturday.