Colorado mascot Ralphie, Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
While the rest of the country gets to enjoy a week of college baseball conference tournaments, fans of the Pac-12 are forced to sit and wait for the start of NCAA play.
Why? Because the University of Colorado–Boulder doesn’t have a baseball team.
Without the Buffs fielding a squad, the Pac-12 falls one team short of the required number necessary to operate a sanctioned conference tournament. That makes the Conference of Champions one of only three conferences in the nation to not put on a tournament. Even the Great West Conference, which has only eight teams and thus isn’t eligible for an automatic bid, hosts a conference championship in baseball. It’s unacceptable that the most decorated collegiate athletic conference of all time can’t do the same.
But before I get caught rambling on about why the Pac-12 should have a baseball tournament, let’s attack the root of the issue–why doesn’t Colorado have a team?
According to the ultimate news source (Wikipedia), there used to be a baseball team in Boulder, but the program was discontinued in 1980 in a wave of massive budget cuts. Now, over 30 years later, the Buffaloes are still without a team on the dirty diamond.
To be fair, budgetary issues are a widespread issue in the world of higher education, and they’ve led to a number of unfortunate developments at public institutions across the country. Most recently, UC-Berkeley announced intentions to cut baseball and a handful of other programs back in 2011, a money-saving move that was met with mass dissent. Thankfully, private support was able to save the Golden Bears’ program, keeping college baseball alive in the East Bay.
But for Colorado, a return to the base paths seems slightly more complicated. Three decades without baseball basically means that any history the Buffs had is dead, along with fan support and recruiting connections. And though CU fans would probably applaud the program’s return, it would be a long, arduous road back to competing with the top-tier talent in the Pac-12.
Nonetheless, it’s something that Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn needs to make happen. There are some serious hurdles to clear, from facilities to budgeting to branding, but the Buffs deserve a team. And, as I’ve made abundantly clear, the Pac-12 deserves a conference championship in baseball.
At this point, Colorado only sponsors six men’s varsity sports–football, basketball, golf, track, cross country and skiing. Compare that list to the nine women’s sports CU competes in, and it’s clear there’s room for growth well within the Title IX gender requirements. There’s one speed bump cleared already! What else could possibly be holding it up?
Northern Colorado has a baseball team. CSU-Pueblo has a baseball team. Colorado Mesa has a baseball team. Even the Orediggers of the Colorado School of Mines have a baseball team.
What gives, CU?