Clarifying the Southern University Thunderbirds move to the Big Sky Conference
01/29/2012 8:27 AM - Devo
As a lifelong fan of the game, it’s difficult to fathom a school with a history over more than 60 years to change conferences, ultimately forfeiting their baseball program.
In my recent article about the Southern University Thunderbirds, it was announced by the NCAA, as well as Southern Utah University, that the school was discontinuing the baseball program following the completion of the 2012 baseball season.
I did reach out to Mr. Ken Beazer, SUU’s Athletic Director who took the time to answer some of my questions.
First was to obviously ask “why would the school move to the Big Sky Conference when they are not a sponsor of baseball as a sport?”
Ken Beazer: “Southern Utah University's baseball program did move to NCAA Division I status in 1988; however, its baseball history is more robust, dating back to its junior college days in the 60's.
Our current conference affiliation, The Summit League, is a midwestern conference, making travel extremely difficult and expensive. Within the Summit League, our closest conference opponent is Oral Roberts located in Tulsa, OK, which is nearly 1,300 miles away from Cedar City, UT.
The Big Sky Conference provides a much better fit geographically for our programs, which greatly reduces the rigor of travel on our student-athletes and lowers travel costs. Furthermore, SUU now has geographic rivals within Utah and bordering states, substantially increases fan interest amongst our community. Admission into the Big Sky Conference has been the focus of the University for nearly 20 years.”
It was mentioned in NCAA press release that this move, “puts the University in a better position to advance its intercollegiate athletics programs” With the basketball and football programs not really outshining the baseball program in any way, how would this move benefit the school?”
KB: “Redirecting the funding resources from baseball into other programs allows the University to bolster current structural weaknesses within the Athletics Department and definitely provides a stronger financial foundation for academic and athletic success.”
Finally, when it comes to collegiate athletics, did the change have anything to with finances or the baseball program losing too much money?
KB: “The decision to discontinue baseball had nothing to do with the "baseball program losing too much money." The decision was weighed extensively over the past year with regards to many factors, such as: conference affiliation, facilities, support staff and limited financial resources.”
When it comes down to it sports is business and sometimes these decisions are very difficult. I greatly appreciate the assistance of Mr. Beazer in understanding this process. It must have been an extremely arduous decision, but one that ultimately had to be made.
I wish all the best to the Thunderbirds in their final season and wish all the best to Southern Utah and the future of their Athletics Department in their new journey.
Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective
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Southern Utah Thunderbirds discontinue baseball program
01/25/2012 5:52 AM - Devo
It’s very difficult to write about baseball teams that discontinue their program but unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast.
The Southern Utah Thunderbirds will be cancelling their program before the move to the Big Sky Conference in 2012/2013 academic year.
According to a report by the NCAA, “the University's pending move to the Big Sky Conference, coupled with the need to redirect resources to add men's tennis, precipitated the decision to eliminate baseball, SUU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Ken Beazer said”.
It should be mentioned that baseball is not a sponsored sport by the Big Sky Conference, but does require men’s tennis “as a core sport for the 2012-13 academic year.”
This is not the first team to lose its programs within recent years;
It’s not as if this is a stumbling first year program. The program which grew from its Junior College days has been in the NCAA since 1988. Despite never advancing past the Conference tournament, having above-average seasons for the past five years and having had 13 players drafted since 1974, a move to a new conference following the end of this season blows my mind.
Obviously higher powers are involved, and many factors, no doubt, went in to the decision, but for the moment the program is still alive. Let’s hope the Thunderbirds go out on a high note and give their fans something to remember.
Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective
Perception is the Blue Jays biggest flaw
01/21/2012 6:43 PM - Devo
Tampa just signed slugging first baseman Carlos Pena to a one-year contract for $7.25 million. In the eyes of Jays fans, this is another transaction that will make people ask, “why not Toronto?”
Alex Anthopoulos has been running the club for approximately 2.5 years and for the first time is beginning to hear the rumblings of impatient fans.
All teams in the AL East have made significant improvements. The Yankees just traded for a possible number one starter in Michael Pineda. They also gave up a future franchise superstar in Jesus Montero. The Red Sox still rife with a powerhouse line-up lost their All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon, but replaced him by trading for Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey.
The Jays did make some waves by trading for Sergio Santos in exchange for Nestor Molina and added journeyman reliever Darren Oliver. They also brought back reliable late-inning reliever Jason Frasor. These transactions will strengthen the Jay’s already solid pen. Except perception is reality and right now, the reality in Toronto is that they have not done enough to make a difference.
With one of the premier sluggers in Jose Bautista leading the way as team captain and Ricky Romero, their ace as the face of the franchise, this team is relying on the promise and talent of multiple players to lead them back to the playoffs; Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Colby Rasmus, J.P. Arencibia, Eric Thames, and Adam Lind.
At the Baseball Winter Meetings the buzz surrounding Yu Darvish was that the Jays were serious contenders in signing him. It turned out they lost out to the Texas Rangers and their $51.7 million bid. At the same the AL West has turned into a mirror image of the East with the Angels and Rangers throwing around substantial amounts of money; Albert Pujols $254 million, C.J. Wilson $77.5 million.
Perception is reality and right now the status quo is average and fourth place.
With the big three in the AL East wheeling and dealing it does become frustrating to the fans and viewers at home when you can almost guarantee where this team will finish next year. I for one feel that way. I wrote many times last year that Toronto was in a position to contend for the Wild Card spot, but things changed dramatically and the hope for that has been washed away.
And I don’t say this as a fan that is angry that the home town team hasn’t made the playoffs in almost twenty years, it comes from someone who knows the game of baseball and gets frustrated when you read something like this from the National Post:
“But if you want to be impatient, here’s what you need to be impatient with. Rogers Communications, the Jays owner, has clearly given this team specific payroll parameters, and they won’t move much until the revenues move first, and Anthopoulos can’t do much to control either one. All he can do is this: he can scrimp and save and wheedle his way to a team so good that when he goes to his bosses and asks for the money to make a good team a contender, he has pushed the parameters of what Rogers will give. That’s it.”
Instead of getting annoyed and frustrated and the state of your team, maybe there is nothing to get upset about. Baseball is a business, right? And if a business is not making any money, you cut costs until you create the right formula.
Perception is reality. In this case, it’s dead on.