The NCAA is discussing a partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB). The partnership would help bring more money to NCAA baseball programs in the form of scholarships. There is still a lot to be discussed and worked out, and this partnership may still be a year or two away from actually happening, but it’s something that could have an effect on more NCAA sports than just baseball. The NCAA is proceeding with caution because one of their top goals has always been the preservation of the amateur athlete.
This Could Lead to More Scholarships
The partnership would potentially give qualifying Division I baseball programs an extra scholarship to offer athletes. NCAA baseball is an equivalency sport, meaning baseball coaches can split one full scholarship and offer percentages to multiple athletes. If the MLB provides scholarships to NCAA programs, it would likely be one per team, and it would be a full scholarship. One full scholarship per team would hopefully attract more players from low-income families. Diversity in baseball is becoming a big issue, and it is something both the MLB and the NCAA are focused on changing. In fact, only 5 percent of NCAA Division I baseball players and 8.8 percent of MLB players are African American. If some of these kids are given a full-ride scholarship, it may encourage them to continue to play baseball because they will not be forced to pay for the other portion of tuition not covered by the partial scholarship.
There are Still Problems to Work Out
There is a problem with the full scholarship issue though. The MLB would basically have to demand that those scholarships would go to minority or African American athletes to guarantee that minorities are being offered scholarships. The coach of the University of North Carolina, Mike Fox, highlighted this by saying, “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.”
This potential partnership is extremely exciting because if it works well, there is the potential to expand partnerships across other sports such as golf, where diversity is an issue, and basketball, whose one and done program is a mess.