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NCAA Changes Start Date for Baseball to Late February

January 10, 2006|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS — College baseball games in January and early February will be things of the past after this season. Monday, the NCAA passed legislation aimed at keeping cold-weather teams from being at a disadvantage.

"Speaking just for me, I'm disappointed," USC Coach Mike Gillespie said. "We have this weather. Our players want to practice and want to play."

Many Southern California teams are already practicing, and Cal State Northridge will open its season Jan. 27. Most other local teams will begin playing in early February.

Next year, teams won't be allowed to begin practicing until Feb. 1 and the season won't begin until late February, with the College World Series still scheduled for completion before July.

Gillespie was disappointed with the decision, but acknowledged that the weather helped Southern California teams.

"I don't think there's any debate about it, if you're a baseball coach in a cold-weather climate, you're at a disadvantage relative to teams in the Southeast, West, Southwest," he said. "But Nebraska, Wichita State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, those are teams that have done well."

The NCAA Division I board of directors, a group of university presidents, also is considering reducing the season from 56 games to 52.

"A lot of us are concerned about the academic performance of baseball players," said Walter Harrison, president of the University of Hartford, citing low Academic Progress Ratings among some baseball teams even after an adjustment was made to account for players who turned professional.

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The NCAA also moved toward changes in the start of basketball season that could go into effect next season, if approved by the board of directors in April.

Under the new rules, the season would begin the second Friday in November, with no early exceptions for such events as the National Invitation Tournament Season Tip-Off. (Temporary exceptions would be granted for early-season tournaments with television contracts already in place.)

The legislation also would eliminate what was known as the two-in-four rule, which limited teams from playing in events such as the NIT or the Maui Invitational more than twice in a four-year period. Under the new rule, teams could play in such an event every year, but they could not play in the same event more than once every four years.

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