Fall games that would count toward College World Series eligibility is being pitched by Big Ten coaches and officials as a way to level the NCAA baseball playing field, currently dominated by southern and western squads.
It’s no secret Big Ten coaches and administrators are frustrated by the imbalance in college baseball: SEC and PAC-12 teams (especially SEC) have been dominating the College World Series for the last thirty or so years. Weather, of course, limits when Big Ten teams can begin their outdoor seasons, and college baseball becoming a revenue generator at SEC school and other larger southern and western schools, the Big Ten is working to keep up.
The Big Ten is measuring support for a proposal that would give baseball teams the option of playing non-conference games in the fall that would count toward determining the NCAA tournament field the following spring.
Big Ten coaches voted to continue studying the possibility, and deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia said Monday the conference is in the process of explaining the concept to coaches across the country.
Traviolia wrote in an email to The Associated Press that he couldn’t predict when, or if, the conference would submit the proposal to the NCAA legislative process.
There are two potential drawbacks. First, splitting the NCAA baseball season into two distinct seasons certainly will not be received by southern and western schools, who dominate the current system and have no incentive to change anything. Second, having both a spring and a fall season will possibly impact summer-collegiate teams; coaches already hesitant to send players for summer play will use a longer baseball season as the excuse to shut down star players.
The proposal is the latest in an attempt to bring some level of parity to NCAA baseball. A proposal to separate northern teams from the College World Series pool went nowhere last year.
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