A month after the University of Wisconsin-Madison club baseball coach Jeff Block put out a 14-page proposal about bringing back Division I baseball to UW, athletic director Barry Alvarez has responded.
In an email correspondence to Block, Alvarez expressed his appreciation for the passion that Block and others have shown for baseball and UW. Alvarez noted that UW has not added a program back since 1999 (women’s hockey), as the university has focused on staying financially stable and competitive.
Alvarez, who is also one of 13 members of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, believes that adding a sport right now is risky due to increasing costs and uncertainties with lawsuits in college athletics (Wisconsin men’s basketball forward Nigel Hayes and Wisconsin football defensive lineman are involved in the big anti-trust case). The uncertainty of college athletics is a legitimate argument, especially if some kind of compensation is handed out to student-athletes. Of note, Alvarez did not mention Title IX at all.
Alvarez did not explicitly rule out the possibility of adding baseball in the future, explaining himself as a baseball fan too. Still, it would be hard to imagine Alvarez adding baseball during his tenure.
Block and others involved in the fight for baseball have no plans to give up at this point. With increasing alumni support, fan interest, and some donor inquiries in the past month, the fight will continue.
On April 23, the club baseball team had a doubleheader against UW-Whitewater, with Division I and club alumni honored in between the games. Block told SST that between 300 and 400 alumni and fans stopped by throughout the event.
Alumni and fans have been reaching out to Block since the proposal came out expressing their support to the cause in any way possible. Former Brewers pitcher Don August detailed his support to SST a few weeks back.
The most appealing support has come from big name donors who are willing to help build a stadium, practice facilities, and of course even fund the program’s reincarnation. Those individuals and groups have chosen to be anonymous for the time being.
Former Wisconsin men’s basketball and current Houston Rockets forward Sam Dekker commented on Twitter yesterday about UW’s lack of Division I baseball as well.
Longtime Wisconsin State Journal sportswriter Tom Oates also expressed support last week.
In actual club baseball news, the UW club team is heading to Battle Creek, MI to play in the Great Lakes regional this coming weekend as the #1 seed. They clinched the Great Lakes West conference title this past weekend, and a trip to the World Series in a few weeks is definitely possible.
The Badgers club team will continue to fight on and off the field as summer at UW commences this coming weekend.