/When it dries, we’ll play baseball in Oxford but the players will still be short-changed

When it dries, we’ll play baseball in Oxford but the players will still be short-changed

OXFORD – The Friday afternoon thunderstorms that passed through here – slowly but surely – dumped so many raindrops on Oxford-University Stadium that the outfield became a two-acre lake, and the dugouts small ponds. Yes, ponds. The players were actually swimming and splashing in the ponds where they normally stand or sit. The NCAA Baseball Tournament Oxford Regional is currently on hold. Friday’s scheduled games will now be moved to Saturday because it is expected that the weather forecast is hot but dry. Then, baseball will be played. This city is ready. The hotels and motels in Oxford are packed. All reserved tickets have been sold. ESPN cameras are available. Restaurants are packed. As is the case at NCAA Regionals across the country, there will be a lot of money made here. Your faithful reporter watched the games across the country while the rain fell. Arkansas was filled to the brim with 15,000 Hog fans for Arkansas’ inevitable defeat of Oral Roberts. College baseball has become a lot more lucrative in the past 20 years, unless you’re a player. You know where this is going – back to my 2018 college baseball soapbox. College baseball coaches still have to share 11.7 scholarships among 35 players. Only 27 of those 35 players can be eligible for scholarship aid. This is ridiculous. You can play up to 10 players in college baseball. This is possible with 11.7 scholarships. Compare: You can play five college basketball players at once. There are 13 scholarships available to help you. You can play up to 11 college football players at once. There are 85 scholarships available to help you. 18 scholarships are available to college hockey teams. Lacrosse teams get 12.6. Basketball for women gets 15. 15 is also given to women’s basketball, but that does not include the horses. Women’s rugby receives 12. Softball receives 12. Even though college baseball has seen tremendous growth in recent years, it still receives 11.7. The college baseball players are among the most intelligent athletes and students in many athletic programs. They can do the math. With a calculator, I can do the math too. On average, college baseball players get around 43 percent of a full scholarships. Many All-SEC players receive the equivalent of a half scholarship. A third-string nickel defensive back receives a full. Even the teams that do not make it to the post-season, college baseball teams play 55 games in spring. They practice all year. They are unable to work part-time jobs to pay the bills. It. Is. Not. Fair. These scholarship limits are due to Title IX’s introduction in the 1970s. I support women having equal academic/athletic opportunities to men. However, much has changed in the last two decades, particularly when it comes to college baseball. College baseball was played in small venues, where admission was not often charged. It was in all aspects a non-revenue sports. It was more sensible to cut basketball scholarships than football and basketball, which pay all the bills, if you were going to reduce scholarships for men’s team. This is not true now, especially in Mississippi where Ole Miss and Mississippi State are among the top national attendees and there are waiting lists for luxury suites to be leased at the stadiums. Are college football teams really going to need 85 scholarships? You don’t have to make a cut to support baseball. The NFL rosters only have 53 players, and they play more games than that. It’s past time, not yet, for the NCAA’s college baseball players to do more. Now I will step away from the soapbox and try to avoid the puddles.