The biggest travesty in college athletics has nothing to do with the ridiculous notion that football and basketball players should be paid lucrative salaries to compete in their sports.
No. Not even close.
By far, the most monumental injustice in all of big-time intercollegiate athletics is happening in college baseball, where hundreds of "volunteer" assistant coaches are working full-time and not getting paid a salary or medical benefits, and thousands of players are leaving school in debt because they get only partial scholarships or no scholarship at all.
"For whatever reason, college baseball has always been the whipping child of the NCAA," new Florida State baseball Coach Mike Martin Jr. laments.
"At the College World Series, there are 30,000 people at every game and millions more watching on ESPN," Central Florida Coach Greg Lovelady says. "Our game is growing, but we're still stuck in these archaic times when it comes to funding coaching and player scholarships. There's a feeling in college baseball like we've been neglected and left behind."
NCAA member schools should be ashamed of themselves for the cheap, chinchy way they treat college baseball's players and "volunteer" coaches. This was brought to light by two of the most prolific figures in the sport during the just-completed College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
After his team was eliminated, Mississippi State senior center fielder Jake Mangum, one of the game's best players, made an emotional plea to the NCAA for more scholarships and to pass a measure for transforming "volunteers" into a third full-time assistant. The legislation for a third full-time assistant was defeated in April when big-time, money-making leagues such as the Big Ten and Big 12 shamefully voted against it.
"College baseball is evolving," Mangum said. "It is. I just want to let everyone know, it's time for a third paid assistant coach. Every year we've had assistant coaches that have not been paid who spend hours upon hours upon hours doing all they can for our program, sleeping in the offices, scouting for us, dealing with camps.
"... In this dugout, on that field, there were 27 players on each team. You start off with 35, you come (to Omaha) with 27. Of those 35, there are 11.7 on each team on scholarship. Like, man, this game is getting way too big for that. Come on. It's time to change. It really is."
Vanderbilt Coach Tim Corbin, whose team beat Michigan to win the national championship, blasted the NCAA for turning down a proposal in April that would have made the "volunteer" position into a third full-time assistant. He eloquently and powerfully painted the picture of the typical unpaid volunteer's life.
"I'm 32 years old," Corbin described to the assembled media. "I'm married, I have a child, I leave the home at 7:30 every morning, I come back at 8, 9 at night. I do it Sunday through Sunday. I don't get paid. I don't get compensated. My wife stays home with a baby, can't afford day care. And God forbid he goes to day care, gets sick; I don't have benefits, so I can't pay for that.
"I make camp money, I come home, put stress on my wife, can't have another child. Costs money to have children; can't do it. I'm a volunteer."
Lovelady says he's seen these unpaid "volunteers" work overnight jobs and "sell bodily fluids" just to make ends meet. The only money these "volunteers" get from their college programs comes in the form of a few thousand dollars per year they get for working the head coach's summer baseball camps. And, sadly, Lovelady says, he's seen many good coaches and good men simply quit and get out of the business because they couldn't survive.
In college football and basketball, essentially every contributing athlete is on a full-ride, full-cost scholarship. In college baseball, the 35 players on a typical roster must split 11.7 scholarships. Most players get about 40% of a scholarship; some players get none. And almost all players leave college tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
I just hope the suits and decision-makers are very happy counting all the money they made from ESPN TV rights, souvenir sales and the sold-out stadiums at the College World Series in Omaha.
The NCAA membership should be ashamed of itself.
Sports on 07/04/2019
Print Headline: Neglect rampant in college baseball