It’s all about me.
If you’re a Division I baseball coach, you’ve probably heard these words before.
True story: Matt Mangini was one of the best hitters in the Atlantic Coast Conference last year. The North Carolina State infielder batted close to .350 with 60 RBI and seven home runs.
He played good competition on a good team close to home, yet Mangini packed his bags for Oklahoma State after last season. His reason: Not enough innings.
Mangini reportedly told Wolfpack coaches he did not like being replaced for a defensive substitution in late-game situations and wanted to transfer. He now starts for OSU, where he has generated similar productivity, albeit for a different team. N.C. State invests two years; Oklahoma State reaps the benefits.
So it is with college baseball, where free agency rules. Pouting about playing time? Don’t like the coach? Team stinks? Time to reach for the Samsonite.
College baseball, unlike football and basketball, does not require athletes to sit out a season after transferring. Baseball, because of its limited scholarship allotment, requires no commitment. As a result, players are little more than independent contractors, picking and choosing, shopping and sorting at the end of every season.
Mangini, one of the top pro prospects, was among the most publicized defectors, but dozens of others joined him. More than 100 of his peers jumped ship last year.
Now the NCAA has stepped in. In a move to improve college baseball’s sagging academics, transfers will have to sit out a year. The change is one of several expected to take effect over the next two seasons. Also, rosters will be trimmed and every scholarship athlete will receive 33 percent grant-in-aid. Previously, schools could divide their 11.7 scholarships down to the penny.
The new rules stemmed from the NCAA’s effort to mend baseball’s collective Academic Performance Rating (APR), a method used to evaluate an athletic program’s graduation rates and retention. The APR is horribly flawed, but nevertheless the NCAA may have stumbled into a good decision.
Its purpose, given the absurdity of the APR, may be slightly flawed. The outcome is not.
Granted, if you lower the transfer rate, the graduation rate should increase _ about half of college baseball players graduate from their original school within six years _ but there’s a bigger issue here. Whatever happened to loyalty?
Let’s accept the fact that most college baseball players will never make it professionally and if they do, their pay-for-play days will end in the minors. So now after years of me-ism, many of them have to function in the real world _ without valuable life lessons.
Previous transfer rules sent the wrong message. Now the NCAA finally got it right, which is much more important than graduation rates.