Is college baseball as we know it about to change for the better or the worse? New rules approved by the NCAA Board of Directors will almost certainly impact the Cape Cod Baseball League. The question is how much? The new NCAA rules -- which uses an Academic Progress Report (APR) to measure how athletic departments handle student athletes -- place new restrictions on the distribution of scholarships, require transfers to sit out one year before regaining eligibility, force players to establish academic eligibility in the fall to be eligible the following spring and set a uniform start date of Feb. 22 (with practice not starting until Feb. 1).
Mississippi State's Ron Polk told Christopher Walsh of the Tuscaloosa News in Alabama, that the changes are "the death blow to college baseball as I see it." Coaches reportedly foresee less competition for roster spots, less margin for error in recruiting, and more players taking summer classes instead of playing off-season baseball, like in the high-profile Cape Cod league.
In other words, some college players may not be able to travel to the Cape for summer ball because they may be stuck at home taking summer school courses.
John Manuel of Baseball America writes that the new rules might be the end of the Golden Age of college baseball.
I couldn't help wondering if the new rules will mean that the many regional summer leagues cropping up around the country will begin to recruit more of the top players from their local universities. A Boston College player might play on the Cape and a top player from Carolina might play in Carolina for the Southern Collegiate Baseball League.
Since the NCAA decided to place restrictions on scholarships for baseball players, I also wondered why they didn't emphasize the need to use scholarships to attract a more diverse group of players. In the year we celebrate Jackie Robinson, why isn't the NCAA emphasizing financial hardship and diversity?
Another significant change this year is the MLB and Player Association's agreement on an Aug. 15th signing deadline. CodBall reported on this 8/15 Rule late last year.