Image credit: (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
On this edition of the Baseball America College Podcast, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy react to all of the news that has poured out over the last several days, as the college baseball world continues to deal with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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Things began to shift early this week, when many college baseball programs announced that they would no longer allow fans to attend games, mirroring moves made in other sports, such as college basketball and the NBA.
Within the next 24-48 hours, however, things began to accelerate even more rapidly, prompted in large part by the very public news of Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
On Thursday, things came to a head, with every conference in the country either suspending its season or canceling it altogether, and the NCAA announcing that all remaining championships for the 2019-2020 season, including the College World Series, had been canceled.
Truly, this is uncharted territory for everyone involved, and the hosts spend about an hour trying to sort some of it out.
They begin by working through some of the emotions everyone is feeling about all of this. Fans and media were rocked by the news that the CWS wouldn’t be played and that college baseball is very likely done for the season, and yet, those emotions undoubtedly pale in comparison to those felt by the players.
On Friday, news broke that the NCAA would grant extra years of eligibility to baseball players affected by season cancellations, but even with those players getting the chance to repeat the season in 2021, this is a tough thing to overcome mentally and emotionally.
Then, you begin to get into the questions of how individual programs will deal with potentially returning far more players. Currently, there is a roster cap of 35 players on a roster, a maximum of 27 players receiving scholarship money, and a mandate that each scholarship player must be on at least a 25 percent scholarship.
Even if those logistical concerns get alleviated in some way, there is still the issue of roster management when coaches now have what amounts to an extra recruiting class of players on the roster. And from the player perspective, there will be increased competition for playing time, not to mention that many seniors will have to make a decision about sticking around for one more year or getting their post-baseball lives underway. For those who have been working hard to graduate and set themselves up with an internship or job, that can’t be an easy decision to have to make.
Still, there are some conferences that have at least toyed with the idea of trying to get back on the field later this season, namely, the SEC and Big 12. Teddy and Joe discuss the numerous hurdles those leagues would have to jump over to be able to do so, while also holding out some hope that a safe return to competition will be possible.