OSU's Barnes explains his vote on coaching proposal
A controversy was created last week with a tweet from Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball concerning recent legislation for college baseball that was voted down by the NCAA's Division I Council.
Rogers tweeted that Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes voted against a proposal that would have allowed for a third paid assistant coach in college baseball and softball.
"Not exactly a good look for OSU when the AD doesn't believe the defending (national baseball) champs are worthy," Rogers tweeted.
Barnes responded to Rogers later that day — and has done a few media interviews since — explaining his position on the proposal. Barnes and I spoke Thursday on the matter.
"I'm all for baseball having another paid assistant coach," Barnes told me. "If I'd been given a chance to vote the way we wanted, which is pro-baseball in support, this would have looked very different. I wish I could have had that opportunity."
Barnes felt blindsided when Rogers outed his vote. He said he's not sure who provided the information to the writer.
"I was very surprised," the Beavers' AD said. "I've voted hundreds of times on things, and never once has the vote been published. It's atypical. I was really disappointed I didn't have an opportunity to talk about why we voted the way we voted before it was revealed."
The NCAA's Division I Council is comprised of 40 members, including an athletic department administrative representative from each of the 32 conferences, four commissioners, two student-athletes and two faculty representatives. The Pac-12 rep is Colorado AD Rick George. The reps apparently get feedback from each of their member schools before casting their votes.
The council votes on a variety of legislative proposals once a year. The body voted against proposal No. 2018-34, driven by the Southeastern Conference, which would have given baseball and softball each an additional paid assistant.
Sources said the SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference were unanimous in support of the initiative, and the Pac-12 voted in favor by a 9-2 consensus, with only Oregon State and California casting a "no" vote. The concensus of the entire body, however, came down on the negative side.
Both sports have a head coach and two paid assistants, along with a volunteer coach. OSU's volunteer baseball assistant is Ryan Gipson, an infielder on the Beavers' national championship club of 2006. Gipson — who gave up a paid position as head coach at Linn-Benton Community College — coaches first base and performs all the other duties of OSU's paid assistants except recruiting. The only source of salary is from private lessons or working baseball camps at Christmastime and in the summers.
"I feel bad for Ryan," said Pat Bailey, Oregon State's current interim head coach. "He needs to get paid, and he needs (health) benefits. We should have four paid coaches and a volunteer, which would give us a 7 to 1 student/teacher ratio."
Barnes said he was in favor of the original proposal put forth to the council, which was to add a third assistant in addition to maintaining the volunteer position. It was supposed to address the coach/player ratio in baseball, which with a roster of 35 players is currently 11.7 to 1 in terms of full-time paid coaches. Softball programs have 20 players and the same number of coaches, leaving the ratio at 6.7 to 1.
At some point in the process, Barnes said, the proposal was altered to add softball, and to elevate the volunteer coach in both sports to a paid position. Barnes said he liked the idea of adding a third paid position while also keeping the volunteer post.
"It got watered down, compromised and lost its focus," Barnes said. "Its initial focus was to address the coach/student-athlete ratio in baseball and to also keep the volunteer coach, and softball wasn't a part of it. Softball is important, but the numbers are different. It has a different ratio and should be addressed in its own form."
The proposal gave schools the option to add the third paid assistant. Had it passed, schools would have been under no obligation to fund the position. Barnes said was concerned it would put schools that didn't fund it at a competitive disadvantage.
"It's what we call 'permissive legislation,'" Barnes said. "The reality is, if you're going to compete, you're going to do it right, even on the softball side.
"Our idea was, let's do this in a different way. Let's go back to the drawing board, keep the volunteer in place and address the ratio issue."
Barnes said he is also in support of increasing the number of baseball scholarship from its current maximum of 11.7. Softball limits out at 12. Barnes said even with gender issues, that disparity can be, and should be, addressed.
"I would like to look at this more comprehensively," he said. "We have a scholarship issue in baseball. I say let's look at that a little further and come back with something to help that situation."
Barnes said he intends to initiate NCAA legislation for both a third paid assistant and an increased scholarship limit in baseball.
"Whether that's in the same proposal or in two different ones is to be determined," Barnes said. "We'll look at the scholarship piece, and we've begun conversations with the Pac-12 about starting the process to sponsor some legislation to clean that up. We'll see what the path is for what we can do to gain some support."
A third assistant baseball coach at OSU would likely command a salary of about $50,000.
"When (the legislation) passes," Barnes said, "we will fund it."
Barnes wound up with egg on his face when Rogers leaked the news of his vote. It appeared to be a backstab to his most successful program, one that has won three national titles and made six College World Series appearances since 2005. The Beavers' current team is ranked among the top four in all six national polls.
Oregon, which has never made it to Omaha for the CWS, supported the initiative.
"Some of those that voted 'no' will be in somebody's house down the road, asking for money to build facilities from somebody who played baseball in the major leagues," UO coach George Horton told Austin Meek of the Eugene Register-Guard. "And yet they continue to turn their back on them? If I was that major league player, I'd say, 'No thanks.'"
The legislation Barnes said he intends to help initiate would be a step toward regaining the trust of those in OSU baseball, former players — including big-leaguers — who had donated in the past, and of the many thousands who loyally support the program.
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