MLB, NCAA partnership could increase scholarships

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“Most of the time a full-scholarship player is one who can pitch for you on the weekend and hit in the middle of the order right out of the gate,” Fox said. “Those are the most talented players that are going to go in the first or second round of the draft. The scholarship amount isn’t going to be enough to keep these kids from signing pro contracts.”

There was no official estimate of how much it would cost MLB to fund scholarships. However, if 150 of the 291 Division I programs met the criteria, and the average one-year scholarship was valued at $20,000, that would be $3 million.

Weiner declined to comment on where the money would come from, other than to say “funding is a real question.”

College coaches for years have complained that the baseball scholarship limit is too low. Their calls for an increase have not been heeded, in part, because baseball loses money at most schools. They also have been stymied by gender-equity concerns. An increase in baseball scholarships could require a similar increase in a women’s sport for a school to comply with Title IX.

Harrison said Title IX would have to be addressed if MLB were to provide extra scholarships to baseball.

The timing of the MLB entry draft and College World Series also has generated discussion. Harrison said MLB would like the college season to end earlier so drafted players, if signed, could join their organizations sooner. This year, the MLB draft begins June 4, two weeks before the College World Series.

The 56-game regular season already is compacted into 13 weeks and, coaches say, it would be almost impossible to shorten the season without sacrificing games.

MLB also wants to spur player development by sending pitching and hitting instructors to summer leagues where players migrate after the college season. Harrison said that would conflict with current NCAA amateurism rules.

MLB also is pushing for colleges to use wooden bats instead of aluminum, Harrison said.

Harrison said committees will be formed to address each of the five proposals. The next meeting between NCAA, MLB and union officials has not been set.

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