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History Topic for Dusty - Title 9 and Baseball.........

Started by Cope, Apr 23, 2007, 03:48:26 PM

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Cope

Baseball gets shaft from NCAA

PEARL — Mississippi State and Ole Miss, both nationally ranked baseball teams, packed Trustmark Park here Tuesday night.

More than 8,000 fans - a stadium record - paid between $10 and $26 to watch a game that didn't count in the SEC standings. A cable network televised the event. No telling how many hot dogs - not to mention peanuts, popcorn and crackerjack - were sold. Everybody made out like a bandit - everybody, that is, except the ballplayers. You know, the guys the NCAA refers to as student-athletes.

They got ripped off.

They always do.

The NCAA limits college baseball programs to 11.7 scholarships, which are divided among about 35 to 40 players in most Division I programs.

Football players and basketball players get full scholarships. Far more than most baseball players don't even get half.

Baseball gets 11.7 scholarships. Women's rowing gets 20. Women's equestrian gets 15, not including the horses. Women's lacrosse, women's squash, women's field hockey and women's rugby all get 12. (Honestly, I did not know women played rugby.)

We all know that's because of Title IX, the federal law that demands equal opportunity for women, which is as it should be. But football is allowed 85 scholarships and women don't play. So men get shorted in other sports, and none worse than baseball.

"I don't mind Title IX; I'm just waiting for Title X," says Mississippi State's Ron Polk, the most outspoken critic of what he believes in the NCAA's bias against baseball.

"I don't think women should be discriminated against, but I don't think baseball players should be either, and they are."

BASEBALL'S BOOMING

There's no getting around it. Baseball players are shortchanged. And that seems especially unfair here in Mississippi, where college baseball teams are so successful - both on the field and at the gate.

State, Ole Miss and USM all rank in the top 15 in NCAA attendance. All advance almost annually into the NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss is about to expand its stadium to seat more than 10,000 and add luxury suites at a cost of more than $10 million. USM is adding luxury suites. State has had suites for years.

In Division II, Delta State long has boasted one of the nation's top programs. Yes, and in D-II Mike Kinnison must divide nine scholarships among more than three times that many athletes. It's not right.

For coaches, deciding who gets how much is difficult, at best.

"It gets complicated; sometimes it feels like you're putting together a puzzle," says Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco.

My guess is that sometimes it feels like putting together a puzzle when you don't have all the pieces. Only, in baseball, you're talking about people's lives.

"We've got lots of players whose parents take out student loans," Polk says.

PIGOTT'S A LUCKY ONE

State pitcher Justin Pigott signed out of Picayune High when all State could offer him was just his books. Since then, he gets a little m ore - but not much. And he is State's Saturday starter and pitched a complete game victory over No. 4 ranked Arkansas in his last start, allowing no earned runs.

"My dad's blessed with a great job, and he pays for my school," Pigott said. "But a lot of guys and their families don't have that. It's a struggle for a lot of them.

"And this is almost like a full-time job in addition to school," Pigott continues. "We work at it just like the other athletes. You look around and you see basketball players and softball players getting full rides and, yeah, it doesn't seem fair."

That's because, of course, it isn't.

We cannot banish dangers, but we can banish fears.  We must not demean life by standing in awe of death.