The Norman Transcript

National Sports

March 5, 2013

The Fall ball experiment

NORMAN — The Big Ten is measuring support for a proposal that would give baseball teams the option of playing non-conference games in the fall that would count toward determining the NCAA tournament field the following spring.

Big Ten coaches voted to continue studying the possibility, and deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia said Monday the conference is in the process of explaining the concept to coaches across the country.

Traviolia wrote in an email to The Associated Press that he couldn’t predict when, or if, the conference would submit the proposal to the NCAA legislative process.

“However,” he wrote, “we would plan to move forward once we feel we have a broad base of support.”

The Big Ten and other northern conferences for years have sought ways for their schools to gain greater access to the NCAA tournament, which has been dominated by programs from the South and West since the late 1980s.

Cold weather puts northern schools at a disadvantage when the season starts in February. Those schools must travel to the South or West to play the first month of the season, which reduces their number of possible home games.

Purdue coach Doug Schreiber came up with the idea of playing fall non-conference games that count so northern schools can eliminate one or two early-season trips and spread more home games over the fall and spring.

Schreiber said northern programs could increase revenue by scheduling games on home football weekends and reduce missed class time in February and March.

Schreiber said the reception for the proposal at the American Baseball Coaches Association meeting in January was “lukewarm” — which he found encouraging.

“When I initially brought it up a few years ago, you could hear crickets in the room,” Schreiber said. “Now the numbers are a little bit better, and I think they’ll grow when (coaches) start to understand the proposal.”

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