The revelation this month that Akron would be allowed to drop their baseball program because it's no longer a Mid-American Conference Requirement could have a ripple effect on the conference.
As a whole northern collegiate baseball is an uphill struggle few teams will well manage. The season starts in February and concludes in May. In other words it starts when the ground is frozen solid, and plays through the wet soggy spring. Every year teams like UB spend the first 20 or so games of a 40 game schedule driving around the south.
When they finally return home for conference play often weather either forces cancellations or makes the atmosphere on the field miserable. Nothing like throwing out a first pitch when it's 35 degrees and damp.
Northern teams, even mid-majors, do occasionally show some success. Kent and Stony Brook have each made trips to the College World Series but by and large its teams from the south and west who dominate the sport.
UB dropped baseball in the 80's and pick the sport up again when they joined the Mid American Conference during the late 90's. At the time Buffalo joined Baseball was a required sport. UB has never fully gotten behind baseball. The team does not use its full allotment of scholarships and their home field is a municipal part across the street from campus.
Still after a decade of struggle the Bulls have emerged as a respectable MAC team, nearly winning the regular season title a few years back and doing some damage in the conference tournament.
The Bulls have also had five players drafted by Major League teams since 2012. Steve Geltz is a big short reliever for Tampa Bay and guys like Tom Murphy are viewed as promising prospects working their way through the minor league system.
UB, like some other MAC schools have a few options in light of Akron's decision.
Personally my ideal vision for UB is to have teams playing the "Big 4" sports and to have some community buy-in. That would be football, basketball, hockey, and baseball. But college budgets being what they are UB has no NCAA hockey team and the baseball team is not well placed to be successful.
Should UB Keep Baseball?
Danny White had a modest baseball venue as part of UB's capital plan. It was considered one of the low priority projects and the estimate was five million dollars. It would put the Bulls game day facilities on par with other teams in the conference but would not address a place to practice in January and February, that could of course be done in a field house.
Once five million is dropped on a stadium it would be hard to drop baseball in the future.
Also on the up side is the number of teams near by when the weather gets nice. Buffalo might spend the first half of the season traveling but many of their "away" games in the second half are at Canisius or Niagara.
Should UB Drop Baseball and shift the money to other sports?
Not that UB's spending on baseball is exorbitant but when trying to up your game in the revenue sports every dime matters.
Should UB Drop Baseball and pick up Lacrosse?
Of course the other option is for UB to pick up Lacrosse. In terms of cost it's not that much more than baseball and the sport has a quickly growing fan base in the North East. Albany has had a lot of success in the sport so we know that a SUNY school can win.
Should UB Drop Baseball and restart Hockey?
I said above that Hockey, Baseball, Football, and Basketball are the four sports that UB can use to grab community support. But if they had to choose between baseball and hockey it's pretty simple.
What's not simple is the cost difference between hockey and baseball. Unlike lacrosse it's not even close. UB would have to get some donations or shift their spending to afford the coaches, scholarships, and facilities for Hockey. In the short term the North Town Center could be used.
So what would you do and why?