Inside The NCAA D-I Baseball Committee
“You let my team in and we will take care of your team.”
“If you let 10 teams in from my league we will let an extra one of yours host.”
“I never really liked my rival school so let’s make sure we really stick it to them.”
When your team doesn’t get the treatment you would like, it is easy to assume there was sabotage afoot.
Every year the NCAA’s Division I Baseball Committee selects the eight national seeds, 16 host sites, 33 at-large teams. They factor in 31 automatic qualifiers and seed them into 16 four-team regionals. Some teams get favorable draws. Others get tough roads while others get left out altogether.
Fans and media look for explanations. Some look for conspiracy. Others assume someone is out to get them. In reality, the committee is just trying to find a field they feel is fair to everyone and can be defended.
South Alabama Director of Athletics Dr. Joel Erdmann is in his third season on the committee. He shared his opinion of the process with D1Baseball.com earlier this season.
“It is a very objective process,” explained Erdmann. “Sometimes there is a perception of a smoke-filled room with nods and winks and handshakes. It is not like that. People don’t have personal agendas. As the committee chair of the South, I am an advocate for the South just like the chair of the West is an advocate for the West. There is lively debate. Everybody’s opinion is valued. It is safe to say everyone is trying to make the best decisions possible.”
Erdmann walked us through a season as a committee member.
“Really from the month of April on, it starts to heat up with information,” he explained. “We are provided very extensive comparative statistics. Members of the committee are assigned regions. I am chairman of the South region and vice-chair of the West region. Our charge for the RACs – or Regional Advisory Committees – is to have conference calls with the coaches within that region. We ask them to provide information about the conferences that they represent. Opinions, statistics, facts, comparisons, and also any inter-league play. Has a top-rated team from this conference played a top-rated team from that conference and how did that turn out?”
The RAC members are in place to lend personal evaluations to the objective, metric-driven process.
Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard serves on the Regional Advisory Committee.
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