NCAA transfer rules hurt Tulane baseball recruiting

daniels    In 2005, he was the toast of Uptown.
    His Green Wave were No. 1-ranked in the country and justified that ranking by playing in the College World Series for the second time in five seasons.
    Eight years later, a small but vocal fan base is growing weary as Rick Jones and the Green Wave are a serious threat to miss the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive season.
    Tulane’s only hope is winning the Conference USA tournament and gaining an automatic bid.
    Why has Tulane baseball hit hard times?
    Simple. The players on the field are not as talented as the players Jones had in the past. Difference-makers, the players who carried the Wave to Omaha, are not on the current roster.
    The Jones detractors say the head coach and his staff have done a poor job of recruiting. But several rule changes in college baseball have hurt the Green Wave.
    Transfers in college baseball are no longer eligible immediately. They now must sit out one season. That rule change has had a huge impact on the Tulane baseball program.
    Three starters from the 2005 team that reached Omaha were transfers. They were catcher Greg Dini (Miami), outfielder Matt Barket (Miami) and pitcher Micah Owings (Georgia Tech). Owings had the single greatest season of any player in the history of Tulane baseball.
    In 2005, he won 12 games, striking out 135 in 129.2 innings. Owings also hit .355 with 19 doubles, three triples and 18 home runs. His slugging percentage was .719.
    On June 12 that year, with the Green Wave facing elimination in the Super Regional against Rice, Owings was sensational. He tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout and drove in two runs in a 7-0 win over Rice.
    Among other transfers who played immediately were Brian Bormaster (Rice), Wes Swackhammer (Florida), Brian Hughes (LSU) and Josh Prince (Texas).
    The rising price of a Tulane education has not helped, either. Baseball coaches must divvy up 11.75 scholarships among its roster. Even if a student-athlete gets 50 percent in scholarship money, the price of a Tulane education is substantial.
    The total cost of one year at Tulane is approximately $65,000. In 2005, the cost was about $47,000. The solution is additional financial aid for eligible student-athletes. But no such policy is in place at Tulane.
    And, three current starters who were drafted out of high school – Randy LeBlanc, Tyler Mapes and Kyle McKenzie – have all had Tommy John surgery.
    If you think the above is a litany of excuses, you are not alone. If you think Tulane needs to change head coaches, you are not alone.
    But my guess is that change will not occur after this season. Jones, in his 20th season, deserves an opportunity to reverse the current course.
    It wasn’t that long ago when he was the toast of Uptown.
    Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

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