Sept. 13, 2007
By Douglas Kroll
Doug Kroll is an editor for CSTV.com, focusing on baseball.
The Ducks are one of just five schools from
It is just that nobody ever thought of bringing the sport back. That just doesn't happen.
With the success of
The interest is there, but it is just too hard.
Wisconsin Athletic Director, Barry Alvarez, has heard the cries for baseball for years since the school got rid of the team in 1991 thanks to Title IX. And since he became the school's athletic director in 2004 after a decade and a half of being the head football coach, the voices have gotten even louder.
"I have some fans and alums that say some things," Alvarez said. "I happen to love baseball and have grandsons that play all summer, so I hear it a lot at little league games."
Former major leaguers who once called
Like all schools, though, Alvarez has to battle funding and Title IX, meaning he would have to bring aboard a women's program at the same time, just like
"I was put in oversight of 23 teams, and I'm able to fund those programs at a high-level so all 23 coaches can compete and be competitive," Alvarez said. "It's not just about adding baseball. I'd have to add two sports. We don't have a diamond, and if I did that then I would have to make some adjustments with the sports that we do have, and right now I choose not to do that."
The same is the case at
"Adding sports is always something we want to do, and baseball is certainly on that list," Bohn said. "Currently, our financial situation prohibits that. I get the question all the time. It's probably one of the most frequented questions I receive."
One of the most famous to play at
Since leaving school, Stearns spent 11 seasons in the big leagues, 10 of them coming with the New York Mets. When the season was over, he always returned home to
The town he called home until a couple of years ago is a place where he thinks baseball needs to be.
"It's totally unacceptable and it always has been," Stearns said of the fact
Stearns even went as far as to submit a financial plan to the school back in the mid-`90s, but to no avail. Falling attendance at football games means less revenue, and less revenue means an even smaller chance of bringing back sports to the campus (six others were given the boot on that fateful day in 1980).
"I wanted to get totally involved and endow the program," Stearns said. "I even went to university officials around 1990 with a proposal and they never responded to it. There are a couple of problems facing
"Number one is, they made a big expansion of their football stadium and they have a tremendous amount of debt and they aren't selling out. Before that, the problem was gender equity. They would have to bring in a female sport in addition to baseball, which would cost even more money to the athletic department."
While Stearns sees it as embarrassing that his alma mater doesn't play the sport he loves, especially given the fact they are in the Big 12 Conference, he has faith in Bohn that one day he might be able to bring it back. Much more than former Athletic Director Dick Tharp and Bill Marolt who came before him.
The Buffs played well in the mountains. The team never won a Big 8 title but finished second twice (1971, 1972, in Stearns' hey day).
The perception of many fans is that the schools missing baseball don't want to play it. But that is the furthest from the truth.
In fact, each athletic director would do just about anything to bring back the national pastime.
But like many things in life, it's all about the money. Two huge names dot the
Could they possibly help bring back the sport?
"[Kohl and Selig] haven't voiced any opinion," Alvarez said of two of the school's biggest donors. "No one has come forward and said, 'I have X amount of dollars for it,' nor have I asked anybody for it."
Bohn, meanwhile, says that he will certainly listen to anything Stearns or others have to say about the prospect of bringing back the sport.
"I would certainly take a listen, and I think it's just a matter of finding the right people to fund it," Bohn said.
As college baseball fans, we should cherish the fact that