Boise State announced Tuesday that it intends to add a baseball program “in the future.” In pursuit of that goal, the school is eliminating its wrestling team.
Boise State did not reveal many details of its plans for baseball in its announcement. The school said there is no timeline for the addition of baseball, but it is “committed to moving ahead as quickly as possible.”
The school said it could not support both baseball and wrestling “from a budgetary and structural standpoint.” Eliminating wrestling will not accommodate the addition of baseball on its own, but the university felt it was a necessary step.
Boise State is a member of the Mountain West Conference and baseball is the lone sport sponsored by the league that the Broncos do not play. The Mountain West does not sponsor wrestling. With Boise State, the conference would have eight members for baseball.
In addition to bringing its athletic department more in line with other Mountain West schools, Boise State said the addition of baseball will help improve its brand and reputation.
Boise State had a baseball program before dropping the sport in 1980. Idaho also dropped the sport the same year, leaving the state without a Division I baseball program.
Since dropping baseball, Boise State has produced two draft picks: third baseman Joe Martarano in 2014 and outfielder Chris Thomas in 1992. Martarano played football for the Broncos before this spring choosing to forego his final season of eligibility to focus on baseball.
Despite not having a Division I presence, the Gem State has a strong college baseball tradition. Lewis-Clark State is an NAIA powerhouse and hosts the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. The JC of Southern Idaho is also a strong program that has produced five major leaguers, including lefthander Scott Eyre.
Boise State still has several questions to answer as it looks to start the program. It does not have a stadium, but could potentially share a park with the short-season Boise Hawks, a Northwest League affiliate of the Rockies. The minor league team announced the purchase of land last month and a plan to build a new multi-use stadium that could also be used for soccer or lacrosse. Oregon, the last school to add a baseball program in 2009, also shares a stadium with a Northwest League team.
While Boise State has revealed few details of their plans, its plan to add baseball is an encouraging one for the sport. In the last three years, Buffalo (2017), North Dakota (2016) and Akron (2015) eliminated their baseball programs.