Seniors Wait For NCAA Decision

Iowa right fielder Zeb Adreon was one of 10 seniors on this season's team. (Stephen Mally/

John Bohnenkamp

College baseball is a numbers game

An NCAA Division I program can give out the equivalent of 11.7 scholarships to 27 players on a 35-man roster.

It is a juggling act.

That's why, when an NCAA committee meets next week to decide if athletes in spring sports can be granted an extra year of eligibility in the wake of this season's cancellation over the COVID-19 coronavirus, Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller hopes there will be some relief in those numbers.

"Baseball is really difficult every year, every day, trying to manage that with so many uncontrollables," Heller said on a Thursday teleconference. "But at the end of the day it has to add up to 11.7, 27 and 35. That’s the question. If we’re going to give the eligibility back, then we have to make the concession with those numbers. That’s the issue the council is going to have to come to grips with."

Heller, who had 10 seniors on this year's roster, said he still has concerns that there won't be an additional year given.

"It’s really messy," he said. "I’m still worried that maybe it won’t. It might not, once they get in the room, and they start seeing how many pieces of the puzzle have to go this way or that way, how the scholarships are going to be adjusted, because you just can’t say you’re going to give eligibility back and then expect coaches to maintain their 35-man roster and the 27 on scholarship and all that, because you’ve got 10 guys coming in to replace your 10 seniors."

Three of Iowa's seniors — catcher Austin Martin, outfielder Ben Norman and pitcher Grant Judkins — are considered prospects for Major League Baseball's draft, but it's unclear what that will look like in the summer. One proposal has the draft moving to July and be shortened to 10 rounds, or maybe just five.

"If they get drafted, they’re going to sign," Heller said. "If there’s no draft, they would love to come back, I’m sure. Everyone is kind of waiting to see what happens. We’re not trying to get too far ahead of the cart with no ruling at this point."

Heller said he has communicated with all of the seniors.

"I sent a note out to those guys, saying we don’t need an answer right now, but you need to talk with your families, how is it going to impact you financially," he said. "Is it something that benefits you academically? All of those things that the families need to decide.

"The majority of these guys are paying more to go to college than we’re paying them. That piece of the puzzle, with what the ruling is going to say, is important as well.

"You’ve also given money away to kids coming in to replace guys you expect to be drafted and be signed. I really don’t have anything other than rumors to go by at this point. In fact, it’s something that can eat you up if you want to think about it all of the time. Guys want to call and talk about it all of the time, but none of us know. Until we know, there’s really not much to talk about."