Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW can and should bring back baseball

Jason Schlutt, the pitcher who threw a complete game one-run, three-hitter in the last University of Wisconsin baseball game, still has the ball from the final out. Much like his short career in the minors, Schlutt is just waiting for the call.

This time, instead of waiting for a call up to the majors, Schlutt is awaiting a call from some UW official asking him to throw out the first pitch.

But will that call ever come?


It should, but don't hold your breath.

Wisconsin should start taking steps towards bringing back America's pastime to Madison. All the reasons that the sport was cut in the first place, 15 years ago, have since been rectified.

The common argument is that Wisconsin would be violating Title IX, by adding another men's sports, but not a women's sport, since the athletic program is currently in equilibrium.

However this is a common misunderstanding of the rule. Many schools are not in equilibrium with the number of sports that an athletic department offers. Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State all are uneven, with one sex having more sports than the other.

What the Title IX legislation actually states is that a school's athletic department must be proportionate to its enrollment. The percentage of a school's female student athletes must be within five points of the school's percentage of total undergraduate women.

For example, 53 percent of Wisconsin's full-time undergraduates in the 2004-2005 academic year were women, and 51 percent of the student-athletes were women. Thus they were in compliance.

Adding the 30 male student-athletes baseball players needed to constitute a typical team would not put UW in violation of Title IX by that account.

They also would not be in dire danger of spending an unfair amount on men's sports either. According to the 2004-2005 UW Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act report, outside of football and basketball, which in nature are high-revenue, high-expenditure sports, Wisconsin spent over $1.25 million more on women's athletics then men's, giving UW a little room to work with already.

Baseball is not the most expensive sport to run either, as the total operating expense of a baseball team in the Big Tens tends to hover between $250,000 and $350,000.

The only area where the spending could be seen as totally one-sided would be relating to student financial aid, as female athletes at Wisconsin currently only receive 42 percent of the financial aid given to student athletes. That number is too big as it is and would have to change in order for a baseball team to be ethical.

In reality though, that 16 percent gap shouldn't be so large in the first place, baseball or not. No, when it comes to equality in sports, Wisconsin would not be in danger of a lawsuit, especially considering how they cut baseball in the first place in order to better aid women's sports.

When baseball was cut, the athletic department was bleeding to death, having an almost $2 million deficit that needed to be filled.

That couldn't be further from the truth today, as the athletic department is as healthy as it has ever been.

Wisconsin sold out the season in football and basketball, while having the No. 1 attendance in the nation in college hockey. The football team won the Capital One Bowl in January, a game which has a payout of $5.1 million. That has to be among the top-10 athletic programs in the country.

If they can't add baseball now for financial reasons when could they ever? Not to mention how the boosters would jump at the idea of adding yet another major sport to the UW palette. Financing for a new, conservative baseball stadium would be very feasible.

The point is, Wisconsin can afford to add baseball.

The school just isn't interested. While baseball in Wisconsin would certainly be received well by baseball-hungry undergrads with a jones for intercollegiate athletics once basketball and hockey season draws to close, it probably wouldn't earn a great deal of money, if any at all.

The athletic department has no problem in taking away media seating at the Kohl Center to sell courtside seats to high-rollers — allocating none to students, who are already in the worst seats in the house. It has no patience for adding another sport that would probably require extensive travel and eat into the budget, even if it is the right thing to do.

Baseball and spring belong together everywhere, the UW campus included. This is not an indictment on the athletics department. It is just a plea. Give back to the students and give us baseball.

I for one, would kill to see if Schlutt can still bring the heat, on opening day.

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