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June 14, 2014

Dennis Farrell

Dave Keilitz

Damani Leech


THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon.  Thank you for joining us this afternoon for the annual state of the collegial baseball press conference.  We are joined to by left first by Division I baseball committee chair Dennis Farrell, the commissioner the Big West Conference.  Moving left from there, Damani Leech, the NCAA managing director for championships and alliances, Dave Keilitz, who after 19 years as the American Baseball Coaches Association executive director will be retiring this month, and the individual trying to fill those big shoes of Dave will be his son, Craig Keilitz, incoming American Baseball Coaches' Association executive director.  We will ask each of you for an opening statement.  Following this interview session we encourage everyone in attendance to remain for the 2:00 interview session with Saturday's baseball coaches.
DAMANI LEECH:  Thanks.  I guess on behalf of the NCAA, we certainly want to welcome the eight teams that we have here in Omaha.  It's been a great tournament so far, a lot of exciting play for all of our fans to watch and capture as the teams have advanced here to Omaha.  We're excited, continue to be excited about our relationship with the Omaha community here, working on 60 plus years of that great relationship, that continues to improve year after year.
Our two primary goals remain the same, and that's to crown the best team in college baseball and to provide great experiences for the student athletes and fans along the way.  We're committed to doing that and look forward to doing that again this year.
DENNIS FARRELL:  Well, I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dave Keilitz for a remarkable career as the executive director of the American Baseball Coaches Association.  I know Craig has got huge shoes to fill.  Someday when I decide to ride off into the sunset, I have a son that's working in this industry now, and I know for a fact that he won't be able to fill my shoes.  For one thing, his feet are bigger than mine.
But seriously, Dave, we were just talking the state of baseball, which is what we're supposed to talk about today, but I think the state of baseball has improved so much under Dave's leadership, and as the commissioner of a conference I've had the opportunity to deal with many executive directors of coaches associations, both as a commissioner and as representatives on various NCAA and CCA committees, and no one has been better represented by their executive director than the baseball coaches have by Dave.  He's going to be sorely missed, and the state of baseball is vastly improved today largely because of the fact that he's been able to herd a lot of cats to be able to get things done for the sport of baseball.  I think that as he walks away into his exciting new phase of his life, he's going to be able to hold his head up high and know that he has made a significant contribution to the sport that he loves.  Dave, you're going to be missed.
DAVE KEILITZ:  Thank you, Dennis.  That's very kind of you.  I appreciate that.  But there's been, over the years, I'm not sure how many years I've been here, but it's been over 30, to watch the game grow as it has and become as significant as it has on college campuses and in conferences and around the country and here in Omaha, it's been a great pleasure.
But I'm certainly not going to take credit for that because it's involved hundreds of people, the NCAA working with them very closely, and mostly our coaches and the job that they've done over this long, long period of time.
It's been a great run, and I agonized, I think, over this decision because I feel I could do this a long time yet and continue to really enjoy it; however, it's time for my wife and I to move on to do some things we've always wanted to do but haven't had the opportunity to do it, and we feel as long as we have our health and energy, now is the time to start.
So it's been a great run.  It's been really enjoyable.  In the 30?some years I've been here to see this tournament and what's happened to college baseball over the years has been very, very satisfying.  Our game has never been better.  More good coaches, more good players, more good facilities, more good programs, more teams that are capable of winning the national championship or getting here.  It's a great feeling to me have been a little bit a part of that.
I'm extremely proud that our board of directors has hired Craig as our new executive director.  I think we had 92 people apply for the position.  They must think it's easy, I guess.  Five they interviewed in Dallas, and the board selected Craig.  But more so not only because he's my son, I'm proud of that, but the fact that he has the expertise, the work ethic, the people skills, and the commitment to continue to do this type of work, and I don't think we'll miss a beat.  And in fact, a lot of things will improve greatly because of new technology and things.
Two of our staff members are moving down to North Carolina to join Craig.  In fact, they're already down there and bought homes.
So the change, we will see no change except for things continuing to hopefully even get better.  It's been a pleasure to be in this position.  I'll continue to be around.  I'll serve on the board.  I'll be here every year.  But I want to thank all of you, as well, for not only your friendship but what you have brought our game in terms of exposure and your devotion to it.  Thank you.
CRAIG KEILITZ:  Thank you very much.  I'm excited to take on this new position, and it's an honor to follow in my father's footsteps, and it's rather odd and an honor to follow him.
But the first order that I had to take on was getting new offices, and we knew we had to get a little bit bigger because we want to put an extra office in there for him to come down.  He says he's going to travel a lot, but I think it's going to be down to North Carolina and making sure we're doing a good job with this organization.  I'm excited about where college baseball is.  I'm excited about where it's going to continue to go because the way it's built over the years, it's just exciting.
I remember it was probably close to 30?some years ago when I first came down here and my mom didn't know about this, but my father and Dennis Pope had myself and Carl go up on top of Rosenblatt Stadium to do tornado watch.  It was an interesting time, and I thought I was a real good administrator at 10 years old to do tornado watch so I couldn't wait to get home to tell my friends about my first duty at the college baseball World Series.  My mother wasn't happy about that.  She wasn't happy with my father about that.  It's been a great ride, I'm looking forward to it.  I have a lot to learn but I have a great mentor to learn from.  Exciting time, and looking forward to getting the board of directors and working with them over the next couple days.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions from the field?

Q.  Curious about other legislation that maybe is on the way.  I know things are kind of in pause right now, but I know there was a proposal by the American Athletic Conference maybe to expand the field to 64.  Is that something that you guys are interested in or curious your reception to that idea and any others that have kind of come up this year.
DENNIS FARRELL:  Well, first off, it's something that we haven't discussed at any length as the baseball committee.  I think that we're always interested in providing more opportunities for student athletes, but at the same time we also don't want to do anything that's going to necessarily negatively impact the integrity of the tournament, and right now I think we're in a good place from a structural standpoint with the tournament with the regional and super regional concept that we have.
I think that this will obviously be a decision that I won't be a part of since I'll be coming off the committee after this World Series, but from my standpoint I would be a little bit more conservative about moving forward with something that could negatively impact what we think is a good thing right now.  I just don't think that the tournament is broken.
DAMANI LEECH:  I think as a staff one of the things we'll want to do is frame the issue for the committee to help them make a decision.  We do that by looking at the recommendation looking at the pros and cons, what are the implications of that if it were to happen, frame it not just as a baseball issue but how it impacts our other championships, how it impacts the association.  There's a lot of things going on right now with the association so is this the right time to do it.  This is, for example, one of the ways which we engage with the ABCA, get feedback from them, ask them to survey coaches when these kinds of format issues come up.  I think they're sort of healthy discussions and debates to get into every few years.  You don't want to have the discussion every year, but every few years it's healthy for the sport to have a discussion about are we in the right place from a format standpoint.
DAVE KEILITZ:  Well, certainly one of the greatest things that happened in Division I baseball, and II and III, as well, was the bracket expansion.  When we went from 48 to 64 teams, that was huge because it not only gave an opportunity for more good teams to get in, it gave a tremendous amount of hope to a lot of programs, saying, well, I probably couldn't get in with 48, but with 64 our program has got a chance to get in.
But when we expanded that, it worked in a way that it was set up in such that it was at least fair to everybody that was involved in the tournament with the 14 tournaments.  Originally when it started out you had some 16 tournaments and some 14 tournaments, but at least everybody is pretty much on an equal basis.
If you expand to say 72 and then you have a play?in, now that affects it a little bit differently.  So that's one thing that has to be studied by the committee.  Also we'll discuss this with our coaches and see where to go.
Aaron, you wrote a very good article about that, and I think you touched upon all the points very well.
CRAIG KEILITZ:  I don't know if I have much to add other than when you can involve more student athletes it's a positive experience for more student athletes, it's something you definitely want to take a look at but it has to fit within the parameters of what you're doing with all your other sports among the NCAA.  I'd like to see it play out and see where it takes us.

Q.  A question for everybody:  A couple parts to it.  Maybe Dennis, you could enlighten us first, the process of picking the 64, very interesting this year on the supercedes, the top eight, two get here out of the eight, and then of course there are bubble teams now.  It's kind of interesting talking about baseball, the teams that were knocking on the door that almost got here.  Were you pleased overall looking at how everything was gridded, how the tournament played out and where we are now on it, and then the next question would be would there ever be a situation where we would go to the regional level where we'd have 32 regions, two out of the three that set up more geographically to get to the Sweet 16, then to the Elite 8?
DENNIS FARRELL:  Well, first off, I made the comments following the announcement of the brackets that this year, my fourth being on the committee, was one of the more challenging years in terms of the parity that's out there in baseball.  I think that the committee can only do its best efforts in identifying the 33 at?large teams and then seeding it as best it can on the information that we have available.
This year's committee is a very experienced committee, very dedicated committee.  There's no wallflowers in that room.  Everybody had opinions.  It was a good, healthy conversation that we had, and in retrospect, I think that what's happened with the tournament to this point has just reconfirmed the difficulty that we had with the parity in the game.  You give a team a chance like a UC Irvine, who we acknowledged as being one of the four last teams in, that once you give them a chance, anything can happen in this sport, and I think that that's healthy.  I think it's good for the growth of the sport.
Over the four?year tenure that I've been on the committee, we've had teams like Kent State and Stony Brook and Indiana make it to the College World Series, which I think is very healthy for the sport, as we all want the sport to be a national sport and not just a Sun Belt sport.
I think the fact that we had so many upsets just reiterated the parity that we had in the sport this year.
In terms of the structure of the tournament, I guess I'll lead off that we've had those conversations in the past.  Again, I think that it'll be something that'll continue to be explored by the committee in the future.  Is there a better mousetrap out there basically, and I think that we all need to be open?minded enough to look at that.
But certainly from my perspective right now, I think that the tournament has been interesting.  It's been well?received by the public, by the media, in that we're in a good place right now as a championship.
CRAIG KEILITZ:  Well, when that came up a few years ago, I thought it was a very interesting concept.  I believe, if I'm correct in this, the coaches were not in favor of that; is that correct?
DAVE KEILITZ:  That is correct.  We discussed this, sent out a survey on that, and at that time the coaches did not want to change the present structure.
However, it does lead some interesting things if you were to have, as Howard suggests, and as had been discussed by the baseball committee, that if you had 32 two?team regionals, it's just 16 more exposures in that area of the country, and it's a big deal.  It's a big deal when you have an opportunity to host a region.
My last year as head coach at Central Michigan, 1984, we had an opportunity to host a regional.  At that point there were only eight in the country.  People in Mount Pleasant and CMU still talk about that.  That was a huge thing.  That's the one nice thing about that format, the extra exposures.  But there's some other things.  Like I said, when we did survey our coaches at that time, the majority liked the way the setup was, but that can always change.
CRAIG KEILITZ:  I personally like that setup to look at.  Coaches, just like it seems like everyone is a little reluctant to change, but you'd have to go through it, study it to see how it would play out.  But when you have an opportunity to host a regional, like you were saying, I think that's a tremendous opportunity for your fans to think different about your program, your school, and what it brings and the strengths that it brings to your program.  I'd love to see that continue to be explored.

Q.  Dave and Craig, what's one thing that you were unable to get done that you'd like to see get done in the future?  And for Craig, what's kind of your first thing that you really want to kind of tackle in terms of issues in college baseball?
DAVE KEILITZ:  Well, one of the things that I had always hoped for is that we could get additional scholarships.  We are at 11.7, as you know.  However, we've got 297 Division I schools and not all of them are 11.7.  A lot of them are?? in fact, a large percentage aren't even at that number.  But I always felt if we could get to 14 or 15, it would give us an opportunity to get some elite athletes that are now playing football.  We have a lot of athletes out there that are exceptional athletes that play football and baseball but they lean towards football where you can get a full ride.  At best in baseball you might get 50, 60 percent if you're really a top?notch player.  And if we got to the level where we could give two or three full rides in a program right now, it's very difficult to do with only 11.7 when you're trying to put a team of 35 together or 27 scholarship players, that's almost impossible.  So I always thought if we could increase by a couple or two and a half, that would allow us to do that and make our game even better.
However, at the same time keep in mind it would even make the gap wider between the haves and the have notes, which is pretty significant right now, but it would make it even greater for those who couldn't catch up to that number.  But one thing I've always hoped for is more scholarships.  I had a conference of Division I head coaches in Indianapolis a few years ago to discuss all of the issues that we wanted to approach, and Damani was there, Denny Pope, Miles Brand, President Brand, it was a great two?day conference of what we want to try and be and what we want to pursue, and basically most of those have been accomplished except for the scholarship thing.
CRAIG KEILITZ:  Well, a little bit more on that.  I would love to see that increase.  Being athletic director for quite a few years now you meet with families and you really realize the reality of to.  You make a pretty good offer at 50 percent, take a school, for example, high point University which I'm leaving, but you talk to a parent, it's $45,000 to go there a year, and so you get a 50 percent ride and you see the parents' face when you talk to them about we're going to take care of half of it, that means you have to come up with 22,000 some odd dollars a year and you can see their brains work, after four years that's going to be fairly expensive.  You can see a lot of decisions based on the coach you'd like to play for, the school you'd like to attend and who you'd like to be coached and mentored by for four years sometimes changes and it's more important about money.  I wish or I hope that that's something that we could change to get more money into it, but it's a very complex issue that deals with Title IX and the way it bumps up against other sports.  It's a little easier said than just people putting more money into it.

Q.  This is for Damani and anybody else who wants to chime in.  A huge discussion right now is the Pac?12 conference.  They want more autonomy with their decisions and I'm sure the other big power conferences.  Is this something that could hugely impact college baseball down the road?
DAMANI LEECH:  I think there's a lot of sort of question marks that exist regarding what are the implications, particularly as you start looking at individual sports.  The conversation right now which Dennis is very much involved in is very much at a macro level, which is looking at the overall structure of the association, how are we governing ourselves, how are we making decisions.  A lot of people can speculate about individual decisions and how it may impact a sport.  I think the short answer is it's a little too early to tell how it might impact baseball.  A lot of us have thoughts but it's early to tell.
DENNIS FARRELL:  I would totally agree with what Damani said.  I'll be leaving for a couple of days this next week to go attend the Collegiate Commissioner Association meetings at which this is obviously going to be a major agenda topic, and the discussion is more about structure of the NCAA and how governance is going to work in the future.  Not so much about what the end gain is going to be.
Now, the end gain is always in the back of people's minds as you enter into those types of conversations, but I think that we don't know how it's going to affect a sport like baseball at this point.
DAVE KEILITZ:  There's nothing more than I could add to that.  It's all speculation and just really unknown at this point.

Q.  Damani, I remember last year you were sitting up there with Dennis and now you kind of like got it, and next year looking ahead to Dave and Craig, you being here, the transitions are happening.  My prelude to the question is the recruiting realities with technology today, and there's been some significant?? speaking of autonomy, shifts, I guess.  How has that gone?  And just as an example, I was talking to one of the?? call it the elite programs' people, and he wasn't being negative, but he said, recruiting anymore for me is not just technology because it's a two?part question here.  We really have to be looking at freshmen and sophomores in high school now because of that discussion.  I guess my question is the technology part.  How is that affected from the NCAA's perspective?
DAMANI LEECH:  From a national perspective just the issue of technology in recruiting is not a new issue.  It's probably one we've been talking about for the better part of the last 10 years.  It really started with email and then the growth of the internet and then text messaging and that becoming more accessible for prospects at lower price points, then our rules began to adapt and adjust.  As new technology comes online we have to evolve our rules to stay up to speed with it.  It's one thing that I think we'll just continue to work on, continue to discuss as far as our coaches are concerned.  Obviously they want to be able to recruit and be able to do it in an efficient manner.  I think that's what drives it a lot is how can we recruit efficiently.  So to the extent that we can do that while still maintaining some of the philosophical parameters we have with recruiting is where we always try to head.

Q.  Dennis, the three teams from the Big 12 that are here were the three worst teams in the league last year based on the standings.  Very topsy?turvy year for the Big 12.  What were your recollections in leading up to the announcement of the field?  What did the room think about the Big 12?
DENNIS FARRELL:  Well, certainly the Big 12 was one of the top three conferences that we were looking at at that point, and I guess you could even say top four conferences.  Oklahoma State had somewhat distinguished itself, yet its RPI was not as high as some of the other teams, so we were wrestling with that.  And it was really more of a macro issue than a micro issue with dealing with the Big 12 because it was an issue that we had in a number of conferences where the computer power rankings of teams didn't necessarily match up with the conference standings that we had.
I've been very comfortable the last few years on the committee.  Coming on to the committee, I was always a critic of the use of the RPI for the selection and seeding process of the tournament, but I think over the last three, four years, we have really delved into how teams build their RPIs, and sometimes that exposes teams, other times it shows that teams that maybe don't have the RPIs that they deserve, they're not the victims of anything that they did, but it could be that they scheduled strong teams, but those strong teams that they scheduled didn't necessarily have the years that they thought they were going to have.  So we had to look beyond just the raw numbers.
I've used this comment many, many times, that if you do it right, I think that the whole process of putting the field together, selecting the at?large teams, seeding the national seeds, the No.1s, is really a marriage of art and science, and the science is the RPI; the art is all the other eye tests.  We use the input from regional advisory committees, and I think that that's been very helpful during my tenure on the committee to hear what the regional advisory committees think of the teams in their own region, as well.
Recognizing that some regions may be bigger than others and have more coaches on their advisory committees and who the individuals might be, so you even have to take that into account.
But in terms of specifically the Big 12, it was a challenge because the RPIs were not matching up necessarily with the standings that we were looking at.

Q.  Question for Dennis and Damani.  Since you bring up Oklahoma State, in softball they see the top 16 and match up the winner of the 1 plays 16, so in this case Oregon hosted Minnesota, realistically the 16.  But by extension Oregon State was paired up with Oklahoma State, which you're indicating was maybe, if you had seeded the tournament out farther, maybe it was 9 or 10.  You could have a scenario where a team is the clear?cut No.1, has an amazing season, 54?6, and yet they get kind of a tough draw in that super regional based on geography.  Do you foresee ever seeding a 16 like softball does, or do you foresee avoiding the geographical, expense?saving criteria so the Florida schools?? people talk about Clemson and South Carolina always being matched up and things like that?
DENNIS FARRELL:  Well, I'll answer and then Damani can add.  First off, that's an excellent question and one that we had a very robust discussion about among the committee two summers ago I believe it was, and actually I was one of the proponents to look at seeding the top 16.  But as the committee delved into it a little bit further, we came to the realization that in baseball you have so many conferences that are represented by multiple teams within the top 16 that if you're going to do a true 1 through 16 national seed that you're probably going to wind up with a No.1 SEC team playing a No.16 SEC team or a No.1 Pac?12 team maybe a No.16 Pac?12 team.
Once you start making adjustments to avoid those types of matchups, then you've basically thrown out the whole concept of seeding 1 through 16.
Based on that robust debate that we had, the committee elected at that point to stay with just the top eight seeds.
Now, is that something that they should continue to look at?  Yeah, I think they should, because I think that we see it out west, also, and that you could have a No.1 seed being matched up with a team that might be the ninth best team.
I think it's something that the committee should continue to look at, but I think there are legitimate reasons why we do it the way we do it right now, as well.  It happens in a number of other sports.  Volleyball it's the same way, as well.  There's a number of sports.
But this committee, which has the prerogative to act on the best interests of their sport as they see it, has elected to not go in that direction at that point and to primarily avoid those conference matchups in super regionals as much as possible.
DAMANI LEECH:  I think to be clear, we do have the ability to seed 1 through 16, we just choose not to for the reasons that Dennis mentioned, that the committee over the years has agreed and continued to agree that this is probably the most pragmatic format for baseball.  I think a lot of our geographic constraints sometimes get viewed through this prism of resources and money as course savings, and while that's true, there's other issues at play.
When you look at some of our regionals particularly but even our super regionals and the crowds that we have at those stadiums, a lot of that is given by geography.  For those fans to be able to get to those stadiums is really great for baseball.  To see those games on television with full stadiums is really good for baseball college, and then you also have the issue of travel.  You talk to some of these teams throughout the tournament, they're doing a lot of travel.  So to the extent that we can keep them within a time zone for a region is just going to make life better for them.  Seeding 1 through 16 is probably most perfect from a mathematical standpoint, but there's a lot of downsides, as well.

Q.  For anybody that would care to answer it, for baseball to continue to grow and get to the next level, I would assume scholarships would be the No.1 thing but maybe the most unlikely.  Were there one or two others, maybe an improvement on the baseball or making this park smaller, recruiting more Paul Bunyans?  What do you feel is the thing baseball can best do to advance the game?
DENNIS FARRELL:  I think scoring is certainly one that is on everyone's mind.  I don't think we're far off on where we are with that right now.  I think that I've had the privilege over the last 10, 15 years of serving on three different committees now involved with baseball, first the baseball issues committee, then the baseball academic working group of the NCAA, and then the most recent one, obviously the championships.  And I think that there's been a number of decisions that have been made by the NCAA based on recommendations coming out of all three of those committees that have helped create the parity that we're seeing in baseball today, and I think that the parity is really healthy.  I think that the fact that you have some squad limits allows talent to be spread around a little bit more, that you have a specific start date now has cut down on some of the Sun Belt programs' ability to start their games in January and spread their seasons out over a three or four more week period of time.  And then obviously the bat issue.
So I think that all those things added up together along with the scholarship?? not the scholarship, but the squad limit that came out of the baseball academic working group has driven us to where we are today, and I think that the parity is great for the game.  Could it use a little more scoring?  Yeah, a little bit more, but I don't think going back to where we were in the late 1990s is certainly the answer.
DAVE KEILITZ:  It'll be interesting next year.  Of course we go to the new ball, the flat seam ball, which based on the research, if that is true, and I have no reason to think that it isn't, it's going to lead to more home runs.  When the research shows with the flat seam ball as opposed to the raised seam ball which we're using now, it's going to increase a ball that's hit a significant difference.  By that I mean 350 feet or more, it's going to add 20 feet to that.  Those balls that are now on the warning track are going to be home runs in the future.  So that's going to lead right there to more home runs, more runs scored.
One other thing that has really helped our game and will continue to help, I think, is the new Major League Baseball Players Association collective bargaining agreement.  This is the second year of that, and there's a couple things there, the earlier signing date.  This year I believe it's the 12th of July.  July 12th.  They moved that up a month, which certainly helps with our coaches and knowing where they stand.  But a couple of the biggest things was there's 40 rounds now instead of 50, but the biggest thing, the most significant thing, is that while baseball doesn't have a salary cap, they do have now a pool of money that you can work with with your first 10 picks.  Anybody that's drafted from the 11th round on that cannot receive more than $100,000 without that money in excess of $100,000 counting against that initial pool to sign your first ten picks.  I think coaches have said this is really significant because they are now keeping players or getting players that were drafted in the 12th round, the 18th round, the 22nd round that they were losing in the past.  They might draft somebody in the 15th round and they follow them all summer, the kid has a great summer, and all of a sudden they're offering him $300,000 and he signs.  That has helped significantly, and I really feel in our meetings with Major League Baseball and the Players Association that the majority of the general managers, scouting directors feel that college is the best way to go for many kids.
Now, they're still going to take their three, four, five tool players out of high school, but I think many of them are thinking along the lines of let them go to college, see how they develop.  We're not throwing money out the window on a lot of these kids.  They're more developed mentally and physically and we'll go in that direction.
One of the guys that have been really instrumental I think in helping us in college baseball we've met with is Dave Dombrowski, the president and general manager of the Tigers.  If you looked at the last three drafts of the Tigers, three years ago, 19 of their first 21 picks were college players.  Last year their first 22 picks were college players, and this past June, their first pick was a high school kid, a great kid by the name of Hill, I believe, out of California that is a five?tool player.  So they took him No.1.  Their next 29 picks were college players, and there's more and more, I think, organizations going in that direction, and that's really going to help college baseball.

Q.  This is kind of going off the scholarship talk earlier, but one of the things that's kind of intriguing is the fact that Dave has always talked about how a majority of the schools can't afford to have more scholarships at this point.  Has there been a discussion about maybe breaking up into two divisions of the schools that can afford to increase scholarships and the schools that simply don't have the money to do that?
DAMANI LEECH:  I'm not aware of any discussions about essentially subdividing baseball.  We have that in fastball with FBS and FCS.  I have not heard any discussions about that.  I think all the conversations we've had about the sport of baseball and growing it has been about growing the 297 teams, not growing half of them or some of them.  Some of the more far reaching conversations we've had with Major League Baseball, that's been actually one of the more pointed issues is we want to do something that's good for all of baseball, not just for the top 50, 75, 100.
CRAIG KEILITZ:  I would agree with that.  I don't think there's anything more to add to that.  Along those lines with the ball, it's going to be very interesting to see what happens next year.  I think we all have a?? we like to see steps ahead of each other.  The one step that's going to take place next year with the new ball, let's see that play out before we start making other changes.

Q.  Kind of an old topic but got brought up again this year, I think, by some coaches.  The idea of potentially moving the season back dramatically.  I know it's a radical change, but trying to play in the summer basically.  I'm curious, do you guys think that's something you would ever consider or something you might be receptive to as far as trying to play baseball during baseball weather instead of dealing with snowstorms for the first month of the season?
DENNIS FARRELL:  I'm going to be very blunt.  I would not support that, and I don't think that there would be much support nationally on that.  I think just moving a college sport outside the academic year is something that people would have a real tough time grappling with from a philosophical standpoint.  You have to allow some time off for student athletes to pursue whatever they want to pursue during the summer months.  It may be playing in summer league baseball or going home and working in a grocery store; who knows.  Or pursuing their academics.
So I don't think that it's going to be something that I would support as a conference commissioner, and I've had lengthy conversations with other commissioners about it.  I don't think that there's as much of a wave of discussion, at least at my level, as there was five to ten years ago about that.  I think, again, because of the parity that we're seeing in the sport, where schools from the northern areas like a Stony Brook, a Kent State, an Indiana, can still succeed and make it to Omaha, that it's as much of an issue as maybe it was considered 10 years or so ago.  That's my opinion.
DAMANI LEECH:  I agree.  I think there's less urgency based on competitive reasons for doing that, and if there is a change, I think we're looking really far out.  I think at that point, now you're talking about the structure of higher education changing because I agree with Dennis.  I think the season being attached to the academic year is important.
Unless higher education evolves to more of a year?round or balanced calendar, I don't see baseball separating itself.
DAVE KEILITZ:  I'll just mention, I probably spent eight years when I was on the baseball committee, then chaired the baseball committee, and then in this position, of trying to get it moved back two weeks, and I think that?? I mean, seriously, this went on for eight years.  With the championships cabinet, we finally got it moved two weeks, but then at the same time we went and expanded to 64, so one of those was taken up by the super regionals.  At that rate, I'll be 147 before we get any farther beyond that.

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