FORT WORTH, Texas - TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle estimates the cost of tuition next year at his school, with room/books/food, will be in the area of $52,000. Pause for a moment to be sick.
That TCU under Schlossnagle has become a national power is not a mistake. The school has heavily invested in baseball, and the team wins. That Schloss' has built a winner despite the inability to hand out full ride scholarships is one of the more impressive feats his institution enjoys.
Other baseball programs at private schools face the same obstacle - trying to divide the NCAA limit of 11.7 baseball scholarships to roughly 25 athlete-students. Baylor, Rice, Miami, USC and others have done it, and manage it, but it's one of the more difficult elements of these jobs.
"It's significantly harder (than a state school)," he said. "A 50 percent scholarship in college baseball is an enormous scholarship."
In basketball and football, 50 percent is a slap in the face. Usually all of the players are on full scholarships. Certainly the best ones are. In baseball, you cut the pie and hope you are right. Schloss' said the highest percentage he has awarded this season to one player is 78 percent towards of a full ride.
If that player does not pan out, for at least one season it can be huge hit. NCAA scholarships are one-year renewable "contracts", a coach then can re-divide who gets what percentage (because that doesn't feel professional at all).
That unnamed player who is receiving that will have to come up with the remaining $12,000 to cover the remaining expenses to play at TCU.
"We have a lot of guys on our team, who are on scholarship, this year who are paying more to come here to play and would have had to pay no money to play at a state school," Schloss' said.
As far as "fixing" this gap? There is no way to do it, other than financial aid packages, student loans, or mom/dad help out to cover the difference. This is the reality of college baseball, and for private schools the balancing game is exponentially more difficult than a state school where costs are less. Sometimes by a half.
"The bigger picture is the five conferences break away and say, 'OK - college baseball means more to us so we are going to give 25 baseball scholarships,'" Schloss' said.
He said this is a fingers-crossed hope. There is no immediate plan to do this. And there is no immediate plan for MLB to help fund NCAA baseball, the way the NBA is proposing to help college basketball. Although, it is easy to envision a day when MLB, in an effort to eliminate a rung or two of minor league baseball and those costs, work in conjunction with the NCAA.
For now, TCU, as well as the other prominent private baseball schools, continue divide and hope it conquers.
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