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June 9, 2008

SCS.comThe NCAA has a core purpose listed on their main web page at It reads “Our purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.” The word that I want to focus on is fair. The NCAA tries to promote fairness in athletics but has come up a little short in this department.

Let’s look at the fairness of allowing automatic bids into NCAA Baseball Tournament. When a team wins the conference tournament, they receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. If that is going to be the golden rule, then every team participating in baseball should be eligible for their respective conference tournament. As it stands today, some teams do not even have a chance to win a conference tournament because they did not qualify for it. That does not seem fair at all. If we are promoting fairness, then let every institution have a shot.

The next item of fairness in college baseball is the Super Regionals that took place over the past weekend. I like that the NCAA gives the National Seeded teams the host site and gives them home team advantage in the opening game of the series. I also like the fact that the visiting team is the home team in Game 2. For Game 3, the home team is decided by a coin flip. Here is where I have a problem with fairness. Just take out the coin flip and have the National Seed be the home team in Game 3. In all fairness, they did earn the right, in the selection committee’s eyes, to be the home team twice in their own ball park. It would not be fair for them to be the visiting team in two of the three games on their home field.

If fairness is the item that the NCAA wants to promote, then the scheduling of times should be fair. Is it fair that Georgia, NC State, Wichita State, and Florida State had to play two straight days in 95+ degree heat? Miami and Arizona were allowed to play two straight days in the evening. Being fair, the first four teams listed should have been able to play in the evening at least once. I realize that TV has a major influence; however, all Super Regional games are on TV regardless. I would love to see the ratings when they come out. In all fairness, the NCAA should be promoting the sport and having different teams play in the evening would help in that promotion. Let’s be fair to the fans and student athletes that had to endure the intense heat two days in a row in Athens and Tallahassee.

The last item of fairness is that the “smaller” schools are getting shafted all the time. For instance, the Jackson State baseball team went 37-22 this season, won the SWAC regular season title, but was left off the field of 64. While this seems reasonable because they did not win the conference tournament and automatic bid, they still should have been included in the NCAA Tournament. There were a few teams that did not win their conference or have the record of Jackson State; however, they were able to participate in the NCAA Tournament. I will give a couple of examples: Arkansas (34-22) finished 9th in the SEC and did not even qualify for the SEC Tournament and Oklahoma (34-24) finished 8th in the Big XII but had a 9-17 record in their conference prior to winning two games in the conference tournament. Is that fair to a Jackson State ball club that worked hard all season to win their conference but had a couple of bad games in their conference tournament?

The NCAA needs to look long and hard about being fair to institutions when it comes to the NCAA Championship Tournament. I have pointed out three instances where the NCAA has not been fair to the universities that participate under the NCAA umbrella. In the end, the NCAA wants to promote fairness but seems to be lacking in their idea of what fairness actually means.

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