(Citynet Statewide Sportsline appearance by WVU head baseball coach Randy Mazey)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Randy Mazey has been a college baseball coach since 1990. His voice carries some volume when discussing issues within the game. The eighth-year WVU baseball head coach has long been a proponent of pushing back the start and the finish of the season. The pandemic may cause those plans to come up for further consideration.
“There’s a new scheduling model that is circulating right now that is a big fan of the coaches,” Mazey said. “It is eerily similar to the one I proposed twelve years ago. Now that COVID has hit and revenues and expenses are at the top of everyone’s list, I think now everyone is starting to realize that college baseball could make some money if we play it at the right time of the year.”
Traditionally, the college baseball season opens in mid-February. The College World Series runs through late-June. The new model would allow for more games to be played in months with good weather. Northern schools are at a significant disadvantage by having to take long road trips south in the opening weekends of the season just to get games in.
“A lot of us got together and came up with a new scheduling model to push the season back a few weeks and play the College World Series in mid-July and play a lot more home games and conference games in April and May as opposed to February and March.”
With many college programs taking significant financial hits from loss of revenue due to the pandemic, Mazey believes a better scheduling concept can make baseball more profitable.
“There’s an opportunity for college baseball to maybe one day become a revenue sport. Hopefully, the biggest problem we will have ten years for now is that the stadiums aren’t big enough.
“They cut our scholarship limit from 13 to 11.7. They cut our games to 56. They cut our rosters back to 35. We asked for another paid assistant and everybody said no. The answer to that is to start making money. And the only way to do that is to start playing at the right time of year.”
On Wednesday, Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball.com reported that the NCAA Division I Committee for Legislative Relief lifted the 35-man roster limit for the 2020-2021 academic year. The scholarship limit however remains at 11.7.
“We only had three seniors and four juniors. Having all those guys back isn’t going to make too big of an impact. But next year is going to be a real big issue because I think we had thirteen freshmen on the team this year that are going to be freshmen against next year. Add those to the twelve incoming freshmen and we’ll have 25 or so freshmen on the team.
“One thing about college baseball coaches, we are pretty good at roster management and whittling our roster down to 11.7 scholarships. This isn’t anything unusual for us. It is unfortunate that a lot of kids are probably going to end up being cut from their programs because of it. Maybe not this year but in the future.”
The Major League Baseball Entry Draft began Wednesday night. However, the event has been reduced from fifty to five rounds this year.
“That’s a good thing not for just college baseball but for a lot of kids. There are so many high school kids that would sign pro beyond the tenth round that really didn’t have any business signing pro. You can’t blame them for chasing their dreams but the majority of those kids that would sign pro out of high school in the past would never go back and finish college.
“A lot more kids now are going to become college graduates that never would’ve had the draft been like it normally is. As a side note, college baseball should get better because a lot of talented kids that would have signed pro in the past will end up in college now.”
Like all college baseball programs, the Mountaineers saw their season halted on March 12 due to the pandemic. Mazey is optimistic that fall baseball, which traditionally begins a few weeks into the fall semester, can proceed.
“I hope by that time we are back to normal and are out there communicating with each other, high-fiving each other when somebody does something good and hugging each other when you haven’t seen them in a while. Part of me believes that is wishful thinking. We are going to do everything we can to be careful and follow guidelines. I look forward to the day where we can get back together and proceed as normal.”