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Interview with Scott McClure, NAIA Manager of Championship Sports

Specifically, Scott is the Manager of Championship Sports for men’s soccer, Division II men’s basketball, wrestling, and baseball.

The main topic was the NAIA’s “direct qualification” scheme which goes into effect for the 2009 season. The NAIA announced a few months ago that the field for the Baseball National Championship would consist of the host team and the winners of nine double-elimination “sectional” tournaments. Conference champions would be automatic qualifiers for the sectional tournaments.

Scott offered the following clarifications about the sectional tournaments:

  • The field for each sectional tournament will consist of five teams. The top seed in each sectional tournament will get a first-round bye.
  • The nine locations for the sectional tournaments will be “geographically distributed”. Schools that want to host a sectional tournament will have to submit bids to the NAIA, and they will have to put up $10,000 for the privilege of hosting. The money will be used to defray travel expenses for the visiting teams. Host teams will be on their own as far as recruiting sponsors is concerned. The NAIA hopes to be ready to accept bids on or before August 1.
  • Here’s the really good news: the sectional tournaments will be seeded on a national basis. The top nine seeds will be sent to nine different sectionals. Lower seeds can be sent to sectionals where they won’t be going up against teams in the same conference. We specifically discussed avoiding the sort of situation that took place in Region VI this year, where the #1-ranked team and two other highly ranked teams had to fight it out.
  • The exact method for seeding hasn’t been determined yet, but it will probably be similar to the existing Coaches’ Poll.

The other topic of conversation was the unusual rules that the NAIA has for baseball: the courtesy runner rule, the re-entry rule, and the automatic intentional walk.

These rules were adopted before Scott was on the job, but his understanding is that the intention of the re-entry and courtesy runner rules is to get more players into the game. The automatic intentional walk is obviously intended to speed up the game.

The decisions about rules are made by a Rules Committee consisting of coaches. They review the rules on a yearly basis. One subject that comes up regularly is aluminum bats. Yes, there’s a safety issue, but there are NAIA schools that would be unable to afford to field a baseball team if they had to pay for wooden bats.

  • There are safety issues with Wood Bats specifically the Maple ones that get microscopic cracks and when they snap become projectiles possible killing someone.

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