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Boise State baseball: Epicenter of the eligibility question

In the end, it’s all the NCAA can do: figure out a way to give spring sports athletes back the eligibility they lost when their 2020 seasons were yanked.
Credit: KTVB

BOISE, Idaho — Monday, March 16, 2020.

Mike Prater did the math for us on Idaho SportsTalk Friday.  There are 34 seniors listed on the rosters of Boise State’s spring sports, and it looks like all is not lost for them after the shocking events at the end of last week.  The NCAA, recognizing the gravity of the situation and acting with unusual swiftness, announced Friday that it plans to grant “eligibility relief” to athletes who saw their seasons wiped out in one fell swoop.  It’ll probably come in the form of an extra year of eligibility, with a one-time roster expansion to accommodate seniors who return for the additional season. 

The question of “eligibility relief” for winter sports is bound to be controversial.  It sounds like the NCAA will at least discuss it.  To have the NCAA Tournaments pulled from the men and women at the height of Championship Week was jarring beyond belief.  But would everybody in college basketball be granted extra eligibility, or just those under Big Dance consideration?  Is every senior whose season had already finished out of luck?  The Boise State men are in no-man’s land—their season was probably over after the Mountain West Tournament, but the Broncos still had that sliver of hope that they’d make the NIT.  What’s to be done about that? 

ANOTHER SHOT FOR THE ‘DIRTY DOZEN’

The most stark example of the spring sports eligibility extension is the fledgling Boise State baseball program.  There are three seniors on the team who arrived a year and half ago to become part of the Broncos’ “Dirty Dozen,” the 12 players who served as charter members of Boise State’s first squad in 40 years.  Outfielder Michael Hicks, catcher Cory Meyer and pitcher Cameron Sommer deserve a second chanceas much as anybody.  To have it all end now would have been particularly devastating to them.  Hicks was leading the Broncos among those with 20 or more at-bats with a .386 average.  He was also tops in RBI with 11.  Meyer was hitting .381, and Sommer was 2-0 on the mound with a 4.32 ERA.  Two of them are Idahoans—Hicks is from Coeur d’Alene High and Meyer from Highland in Pocatello.

JUST THE TONIC FROM THE BRONCO WOMEN

The final practice held Friday by the Boise State women’s basketball team was therapeutic not only for the Broncos, but for any fan who saw the video on social media.  “We wore the uniform with pride,” said the post.  “We wish we could’ve worn it in one more game.  But we made sure we could wear it as Family...one more time.”  The Broncos were decked out in the road blue uniforms they would have worn this week in the NCAA Tournament.  They conducted impromptu drills and contests, and it was pure joy.  There was probably a different kind of emotion displayed after the cameras were turned off, but this was just what everybody needed to see from the four-time Mountain West Tournament champions.

WELL, THERE’S FOOTBALL NEWS

For the second consecutive season, it looks like Boise State will have a graduate transfer kicker.  Jonny Messina of Stetson, an FCS school in Florida, announced Sunday on Twitter that he has committed to the Broncos.  As a junior for the Hatters, Messina converted 15 of 19 field goal attempts and 41 of 42 extra points.  His longest field goal last year covered 46 yards.

Messina follows in the footsteps of Eric Sachse, the grad transfer from Division III Trinity College in Connecticut who joined Boise State last summer.  Sachse debuted with the school record-tying five field goals in the 31-19 win at Florida State.  He went on to go 14-of-17 on field goals with a long of 41 yards, and 61-of-62 on PATs.  Sachse’s one year was solid.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…March 16, 2012:

It had happened only four times in history, and not since Hampton stunned Iowa State in the BSU Pavilion in 2001.  But on this historic night, not one, but two No. 15 seeds topple No. 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.  Norfolk State, in its first-ever appearance in the Big Dance, brought down Missouri, 86-84, in what would prematurely be the Tigers’ final game as a Big 12 school before moving to the SEC.  Then Lehigh rocked Duke, 75-70, in Greensboro, NC—just 55 miles from the Blue Devils’ campus.  Neither Norfolk State nor Lehigh made it to the Sweet Sixteen.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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