Joe Santilli of Triple Crown Sports is proposing a new year-end Division I tournament for college baseball. Known as the National Invitational Baseball Championships, the 32-team event would consist of the top schools that failed to make the 64-team NCAA Tournament tournament.
Triple Crown Sports currently hosts similar Division I events for women’s basketball, the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, as well as those for softball and volleyball that are inaugurated in 2017. The baseball event would give 32 teams a chance to extend their seasons and compete for a championship that would conclude the day prior to the start of the College World Series. It is great and much-needed concept, particularly for northern-based and mid-major programs that face long odds of making the NCAA Tournament if they fail to win their conference tournament.
Santilli is the executive director of baseball for Triple Crown Sports, which has a long history of hosting many of the premier amateur tournaments in numerous sports across the country.
As Santilli notes, the reasons why baseball does not offer an alternative post-season tournament are complex, but ultimately come down to the current NCAA legislation that would count any games played in a postseason tournament event (other than the current 64-team tournament) toward the maximum number of baseball contests allowed for a season. The other sports (men’s and women’s basketball, fastpitch softball and volleyball) have specific legislation in place that allows for an exception.
Assuming the NCAA members can eventually push forward legislation change, there would still be important logistics to consider. One of the most obvious challenges would be the cost of keeping student-athletes on campus after the semester ends, but this can be managed through creative formatting of the event. The schedule would also need to make financial sense for host institutions, ensuring that the games have every opportunity to draw in their fan base. Like other sports, an alternative postseason baseball tournament would need to complement the NCAA Tournament with minimum interference in the scheduling of games.
Santilli and Triple Crown have laid out the logistics and the costs associated with the NIBC. You can read the article in the current issue of Baseball The Magazine, which is available here, or by visiting the College Baseball Now website.