NCAA cancels spring season: What this means for college baseball

Alex Cirino

In arguably the most unpredictable time in the sports world, athletes across all levels are left uncertain about what lies ahead. From professional athletes anticipating a major breakout season to young athletes whose hopes of achieving their athletic dreams, everyone’s goals have been put on hold. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, almost every form of sports has been cancelled or postponed, which has hit collegiate athletics the hardest–baseball in particular. 

Among all domestic cancellations, the NCAA is the organization that will undergo the most changes. The NCAA cancelled the spring seasons for every collegiate sport leaving its athletes questioning what comes next. Aside from the players who have solidified their spots on these rosters, incoming commits are greatly affected by it. 

Senior Collin Bosley-Smith was already committed to play baseball at Duke with his spot on the team still fairly secure. However, the NCAA’s decision to grant seniors another year of eligibility has many incoming freshmen like Bosley-Smith wondering just how much these new parameters will affect them. Along with this group of players comes a number of student athletes looking to compete for some of those remaining roster spots.  

Across all spring sports, the biggest factors that the NCAA’s decision will change are a team’s roster size, scholarship distribution, and future recruiting plans. 

Baseball team co-captain Amartya Eswaran-King was on track for a breakout senior season. “I was hoping to have some coaches come to see me play this spring,” Eswaran-King said. His dreams of playing collegiate baseball were still a realistic possibility. He had played in front of many coaches through showcase tournaments and in-person camps at various schools and was still in remote contact with some coaches over the course of his senior year. With all the right steps taken in the past the coronavirus cancelations have caused many aspects of NCAA baseball to spiral out of order.

Collegiate baseball roster limits have remained at 35 spots, however, seniors that wish to return to the team don’t count towards that total. An incoming freshman’s roster spot will most likely not be affected by that. In Bosley-Smith’s case, members of Duke’s coaching staff have reached out to him throughout the past month making sure he’s staying fit and in baseball shape while seasons are still paused. While Bosley-Smith may have secured a roster spot, this lessens the chances for any walk-ons eying a late roster opening. It’s hard to say how much a team will choose to push its roster limits as that only makes it harder when it comes to scholarship distribution. With no incoming revenue, schools may need to prioritize athletic scholarships less and shift their attention towards the necessary funds to keep the program running.

“They need to increase the number of scholarships,” Bosley-Smith suggested as an ideal solution to level the playing field. Schools are only allowed 11.7 full scholarships to distribute across the team. Meanwhile, as the incoming acquisitions look to settle into Duke’s already competitive roster, their promised scholarships may be slightly altered. 

The MLB’s new draft format which saw the draft go from 40 rounds to just five is arguably the greatest change any league has undergone amid the coronavirus pandemic and will certainly have the most widespread impact. “[The] MLB is screwing over college baseball,” Eswaran-King said. 

This will cause many seniors who were draft ready or draft eligible to now delay that much anticipated route to the big leagues. In addition to roster sizes now being packed, NCAA baseball will be more stacked than ever. Although the league’s entertainment value may prosper because of that, a player that could’ve found a spot on a collegiate roster under last year’s circumstances may not be as fortunate this time around. That doesn’t mean it’ll be impossible to join a team as a walk-on for instance, but it strengthens the criteria which coaches and scouts will now look for in a player.

As baseball leads the way with the first wave of drastic changes, expect more to come in the near future