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Archive for Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Rule could help teams in chilly climates

January 11, 2005

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— The NCAA is considering a uniform schedule for Division One baseball in an attempt to make climate less of an issue as teams, including Kansas University's, try to be competitive.

In a report addressed Monday at the NCAA convention, the Division One Baseball Issues Committee proposed a Feb. 1 date to begin spring practices, with games not allowed to start until March 1. To keep with the 56-game maximum allowed, the NCAA Tournament and College World Series would be pushed back a week, and that could result in games trickling into July.

Such a proposal can't be considered by the NCAA Management Council for another year, and can't go into effect until the 2007 season.

In an attempt to offset the early season disadvantage, KU coach Ritch Price schedules an annual trip to Hawaii, where the Jayhawks play up to seven games against Hawaii-Hilo in late January or early February. In the past, Price has been able to offset the costly price tag of the trip because of his equipment contract with Easton. KU is scheduled to take the trip again this year, and will open the season against UHH on Feb. 4.

The climate issue especially is heated in the Big 12 Conference, which has member institutions in both warm- and cold-weather areas. Traditionally, the southernmost schools -- Texas A&M, Texas and Baylor -- have seen perennial success, while the four North schools that field a baseball team -- Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Kansas State -- finished in the bottom four slots in the conference last year. All of those schools have trouble even getting outside to practice before the start of the season because of cold weather.

The weather is very much an issue for schools in the northern part of the country, though. For example, Florida State's first game this year is scheduled for Jan. 28, while Minnesota can't start games until Feb. 25.

KU chancellor Robert Hemenway, who also serves as chairman for the NCAA Board of Directors, told the Associated Press that the directors would prefer baseball cutting down the length of its season, and that it would be up to the baseball committee to determine how many games to slice off the schedule.

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