With the NCAA Division I Council voting on Monday to grant additional eligibility to student-athletes who play spring sports, head baseball coach Mike Bianco and his staff are exploring the effects on the 2021 roster.
Bianco will be forced to manage extra roster spots for seniors whose eligibility would have otherwise run out and juniors who would have elected to enter the MLB draft and play professionally — all mixed in with the upcoming recruiting class prospects that were set to take those vacated spots.
The decision from the NCAA was expected, but the coach said he delayed speaking with players affected by the ruling until it was official. Bianco said he’ll start to have discussions with upperclassmen individually this week.
“We’ve been waiting on the NCAA because it’s hard to have these conversations with the team or kids individually when you really don’t know what the future is,” he said.
The new ruling allows seniors like Austin Miller and Taylor Broadway the opportunity to come back for an extra year without counting toward the 35-man roster. There will be some managing to do for the 2021 roster, but Bianco said he is confident it will come out even.
“We’re okay, as far as numbers, compared to some other people,” he said. “This would have been a different deal for us last year when you look at the amount of kids that were drafted and the amount of kids drafted after the fifth round. Then you look at the incoming class, 20-plus new guys. That would have been a difficult thing… I think our difficulty will come in years to come.”
The decision will also have a large impact on draft-eligible juniors. The MLB draft that usually occurs at the beginning of June and includes 40 rounds of picks could be reduced to as little as five rounds this year, as teams are unable to conduct regular scouting.
Juniors who were set to rise as draft prospects this season — like Anthony Servideo and Tyler Keenan — can return as juniors in 2021 and maintain the leverage to return after a standard draft next season.
“You’ll have five classes basically on campus with a scholarship limitation that wasn’t even enough for four classes,” Bianco said. “Even though we’re getting some relief this year, you can look at next year or two years from now where there’s basically two sophomore classes at the same time.”
The NCAA took a step in the right direction but will need to introduce more legislation to smooth out the process as the situation develops, Bianco said.
“Even though we got some clarity on Monday, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions from one-time transfer legislation to junior college transfers to redshirts,” Bianco said. “There’s a lot of different things that they don’t really have the answers to yet. They will, but they’re kind of grabbing all the questions at one time.”