Bowling Green State on Friday announced it cut its baseball program, effective immediately. The program is the first to be cut in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the financial crisis that is affecting college athletics.
Bowling Green said baseball’s elimination is part of a larger restructuring of its athletic department which will save $2 million. The university said cutting baseball will save $500,000 annually.
In a statement, athletic director Bob Moosbrugger, who played baseball at Bowling Green under longtime coach Danny Schmitz, characterized the decision as difficult but necessary.
“As a baseball alumnus, my heart breaks for the families affected by this decision,” Moosbrugger said.
The economic effects of the pandemic are being felt throughout college athletics, but this week the Mid-American Conference became the epicenter for the financial fallout. The conference on Wednesday announced it would eliminate its tournament for eight sports, including baseball, for the next four years, among other cost-savings plans. On Thursday, Akron eliminated men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis. Then, on Friday, Bowling Green followed with the elimination of baseball.
Bowling Green is the third MAC school to eliminate baseball since 2015. Akron cut its program in 2015, although that decision was reversed two years later, and the Zips returned to the diamond this spring. Buffalo cut its program in 2017.
Still, Bowling Green’s elimination of baseball is stunning in some ways. Moosbrugger played under Schmitz, and in 1991 was named the team’s top freshman. He also serves on the NCAA’s baseball committee.
Bowling Green has a strong baseball history, dating to 1915. The program produced a Cy Young winner in Orel Hershiser and other big leaguers like John Berti, Doug Blair, Roger McDowell and Nolan Reimold. The Falcons reached the NCAA Tournament four times, most recently in 2013 when they made a surprising run through the MAC Tournament as the No. 6 seed.
In recent seasons, the Falcons had fallen on tough times on the diamond. They last had a winning record in 2010, when they went 31-23-1 and they haven’t won 20 games in a season since 2015.
Bowling Green was off to a 2-11 start this spring before the season was canceled due to the pandemic. It did, however, win its final game of the season, defeating Youngstown State, 2-1, on the road March 10.
No one knew at the time that it would be the last game, not only in the 2020 season, but also in Bowling Green baseball history.