Mickey Plyler's Blog for June 13

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Sean Clark has had a magical ride in the post-season for the Tigers. His curveball, change-up and the location of his fastball have had hitters off balance and guessing. Clark has earned himself a nice role in the College World Series and may have a shot at starting for the Tigers. Clark is listed as a senior but has another year of eligibility left so he is coming back and will be a weekend starter for the Tigers next season right? Well, not so fast.

Clark should not have a decision to make but the NCAA may forced his hand. Who would rather go to work in the real world when you had a chance to pitch for one of the nation’s top baseball programs? I think Clark is coming back but I have not interviewed him and I know he will not make his final decision until after the season.

What could happen to Sean Clark is happening all across college baseball. Players who have some scholarship money offered to them may not come back due to financial issues. It happens even more for high school kids that get drafted. The problem is with the NCAA’s scholarship limitations of 11.7 for baseball.

Let me use a hypothetical situation to illustrate what happens sometimes in this crazy NCAA controlled sports world. Let’s say you live out of state and your son gets a baseball scholarship offer to Clemson. Sounds great right? But look further and understand that it is only a partial scholarship because the NCAA allows baseball programs to give only 11.7 scholarships. Those scholarships have to be divided among the 30-35 players in your program.

Out of state tuition for Clemson students is between $20,000 and $25,000 per year. The Tiger baseball staff can only pay for some of that and you are stuck with thousands of dollars per year on your bill. Now, your son may qualify for grants, financial aid and loans but you are still coming off of the hip with some cash.

Let’s say your son gets drafted in the 25th round of the draft out of high school. The major league team that drafted him is offering $50,000 cash signing bonus. As an outsider you laugh at the offer. After taxes that money is down to less than $30,000. Clemson fans say how can you sign for such little money and not want to go to Clemson? Well, some simply can’t afford not to. It is a matter of accounts payable vs. accounts receivable.

Now, fortunately for college baseball many of the families can afford to pay some of the tuition. But have you ever wondered why the game is so white? I wonder what would happen if Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition ever figured out that some black kids don’t have the opportunity to go to college because the NCAA limits their chance.

Title IX is the reason we have these type limitations. Title IX is a government quota system that tries to ensure there is not discrimination. In fact it does the opposite. Title IX hurts men and women. It limits their opportunity. Clemson had to add a women’s sport a few years ago and women’s golf made all the sense in the world. Golf is big in our state. Our men’s team is a national power. The facilities were in place. But women’s golf offers fewer opportunities than rowing so Clemson added the ever popular rowing instead.

Rowing is a good exercise but it is not the sport Clemson fans care about. Frank Howard said he would never add a sport where you sat on your butt and went backwards. Female athletes that have never rowed in their life came out for the squad and made the team. Rowing is the beneficiary of Title IX and golf is the victim. The Sean Clark’s of the world may be the victims also. It might be your son one day. You see the song does not say, “Rowing, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Cheverolet.” Baseball is our pastime but baseball gets 11.7 scholarships.

Please someone tell me why baseball gets 11.7 scholarships but lacrosse gets 12.6. Ice hockey gets 18 scholarships on the men’s side. Better yet someone tell me why women’s rowing gets 20 scholarships and baseball gets 11.7.

For those of you that might argue that I am comparing apples to oranges by crossing over sports then please tell me why men’s basketball, a revenue producer, gets 13 scholarships while women’s basketball, a non-revenue sport, gets 15. Women’s track and field has the same number of events as the men but get 5.4 more scholarships than men’s track. Men’s soccer creates some interest and revenue and gets more than two scholarships less than women’s soccer. Women’s tennis gets almost twice as many scholarships as men’s tennis. The numbers continue. I have included a chart of the official allotment of scholarship limits for each Division I sport below:

Sport              Men    Women

Baseball/Softball  11.7   12
Basketball         13     15
Track & Field      12.6   18
Football           85     0
Golf               4.5    6
Gymnastics         6.3    12
Field Hockey       0      12
Ice Hockey         18     18
Lacrosse           12.6   12
Rowing             0      20
Soccer             9.9    12
Swimming/Diving    9.9    8.1
Tennis             4.5    8
Volleyball         4.5    12
Water Polo         4.5    8
Wrestling          9.9    0

I have been wrong before and I will be wrong again but this does not make sense and it drives me crazy. I can’t run my business this way and you can’t either. Title IX figures should not include the two sports that fund all other sports. Take away football and men’s basketball and then re-figure. That is if you have to have your discrimination based quota system.

Omaha is a great event and Sean Clark is going to enjoy the experience. I say give baseball 20 scholarships so Sean Clark can enjoy a chance at chasing his Omaha dream for 2007.

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