Interesting article over at CBSSports.com yesterday. The NCAA and Major League Baseball are in active discussions to develop a partnership that could help prop up college baseball.
The partnership is aimed at expanding the importance of college baseball and is expected to result a significant investment by MLB that could include funding scholarships across the sport. The NCAA Board of Directors was briefed on the matter last week at their annual meeting.
"It's very early," a source said. "But we're hopeful something meaningful will come out of the talks."
What form an MLB sponsorship will take is yet to be determined but it could result in a general scholarship fund or additional scholarships for each school paid by the league.
The NCAA and MLB will also explore ways of improving diversity in the sport across both levels. In 2010-11, just five percent of NCAA players were black and six percent Latino across Division I. Other topics have included the timing of the College World Series and MLB Draft as well as possibly eliminating metal bats.
All of this is very much in the preliminary stages. There are any number of hurdles to growing the sport of college baseball across the NCAA -- Title IX, geography, facilities, funding -- but a deeper partnership between MLB and the NCAA does present some exciting possibilities. Props to MLB for being somewhat forward-looking here.
Farther down the line, if an MLB-NCAA partnership helps grow the sport of baseball, I also wonder whether other professional leagues, namely the NHL, will sign on to help grow the college game. The NFL and NBA are two pro leagues where the partnership with the NCAA, if not official, runs quite deep, but the NHL could definitely stand to gain if they helped the NCAA grow the sport of college hockey.
As the college hockey game pumps more and more alums into the NHL, the league would stand to gain given a modest investment in college hockey. A partnership with the NHL could be a catalyst for propping up a sport where growth has more or less stagnated for more than a decade.
Hat Tip: Tomahawk Nation