As the smoke from the Super Bowl activities die down in San Diego, one of its own memorable athletes tries to make a difference in his community. As the smoke from the Super Bowl activities die down in San Diego, one of its own memorable athletes tries to make a difference in his community.
San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn will be starting the next phase of his life this upcoming Friday as he takes on the task of leading the San Diego State baseball team as their head coach.
Along with bringing approximately 20 years of professional baseball experience to the Aztecs hardball program, Gwynn will also be trying to make a difference in dearth, starting in his own backyard.
His duties as coach are obvious. Recruiting, being the conscience of every young man on the team, learning how to run a collegiate team on a shoestring budget and make it run cleanly, and translate what Tony Gwynn was on a baseball field to all of his players, which some might actually get what he’s preaching.
Then there’s what he sees, and what hasn’t been discussed in high volume.
When he looks in his conference, the Mountain West, there are just two black players in the entire frame. One of those is his center fielder, better known as Anthony Gwynn, his son.
Gwynn sees a separate task at hand with having just two African-American players in an entire conference. He’s said that he wants to get his team into the top echelon of squads in the country, but he’s going to go that extra effort to introduce more black kids to college baseball. He sees the lack of black kids in the college game as something failing along the way.
He might be right, and that failure may start with Title IX.
Budgets in general are not that vast for college baseball as they are for football and basketball, but that with the combination of mandates to get within the guidelines of adhering to Title IX governing practices, have caused the death of baseball programs at Howard University and South Carolina State University, both black schools.
Grambling seems to be coming out of the dust just dandy with a new $1.5 million baseball field, but Howard, before closing shop, had to practice on the football field and the gym. Facility use could not be updated, hence the dismissal of the program. Southern’s getting a two million dollar facelift to be done later this year.
Southern’s even got a slick website for the baseball team, which allows the program to recruit to as far as California. It hasn’t been a coup as of yet, but there has been positive signs that the best is yet to come between Southern and the Golden State.
The women’s softball team got the love at S.C. State after their baseball team was shut down in 1993. In both situations, there was the thought that the programs could have been saved with some budget to work with, or a lightening on the Title IX mandates.
The latter’s not going to happen anytime soon, because the NCAA would get creamed by woman’s organizations nationwide if Title IX was fudged with in any way. Then there’s money, and college baseball just doesn’t bring that much confidence as a moneymaking operation, so the cash isn’t going to be taken away from the other programs to help baseball stay afloat.
Once the heart stops, no CPR will be given the victim, and funeral arrangements will be made from that point.
In the MEAC Conference, there’s a growing fear that it will be void of a baseball division, and strong surviving teams like Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M will be headed towards the independent route.
Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M would benefit mightily from taking that tact with their respective programs because they wouldn’t have to share money with a conference who are sitting bedside, holding the hands of their programs and watching them slowly die. In other words, it’s a lose-lose situation for the MEAC, and that would now disseminate black players to bigger schools or straight to the pros.