COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — The week of March 16th, 2020, should have been the start to the fifth week of the college baseball season and the seventh for collegiate softball.
Instead, once packed bleachers are now bare. Diamonds remain untouched, and no recruiting is allowed throughout Mississippi.
“They’ve sweat. We’ve put them through a lot of hard work,” ICC head baseball coach Rick Collier said. “They were coming around and knew they were going to be pretty good. that hurts their feelings, and it’s a tough situation.”
Due to growing concerns for Coronavirus, many conferences, like the NCAA and the National Junior College Athletic Association, have put restrictions on athletic departments. Those restrictions include recruiting bans until at least April 15th.
In a NJCAA memo obtained by WCBI, coaches cannot travel in or out of state for prospective athletes, coaches cannot recruit in person, and prospective athletes cannot visit campus.
The only contact allowed is over the phone or by e-mail.
Even if in-person recruiting was possible, the Mississippi High School Athletic Association added another barrier by putting a pause on spring play until March 29th.
“We had some guys who we’re still trying to fight for a spot to get on a college roster, and now there’s no way for those guys to get recruited,” New Hope head baseball coach Lee Boyd said.
“I talk to coaches who say ‘we’ll we want to see her and how she bats this year. She had too many strikeouts this year, but other than that they thought she was a great player,” Houston head softball coach Derick Kirby said. “Well, is 11 games enough?”
The good news delivered by the NJCAA and the NCAA; players won’t lose a year of eligibility due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, that could have major implications for available roster spots and for kids who haven’t committed to a school in the fall.
“Probably have to be larger rosters, and maybe a few more scholarships after. Any sophomore that wants to stay, I will probably honor them,” Collier said.
The MHSAA will meet on March 29th to reassess the current statewide competition and practice suspension. The NJCAA and NCAA will address the recruiting ban come April 15th.
EMCC Athletic Director Sharon Thompson recommended that any high school athlete that is concerned about their chances of being recruited should send video of themselves to any school or coach they are interested in.