Lauren Schnepf, Senior Staff Writer • Published February 8th, 2017 • The Vermont Cynic
After an 8-year push by students and the community, steps were made to bring back UVM varsity baseball.
SGA President Jason Maulucci met with the Friends of UVM Baseball committee on Jan. 28 to work out a plan to reinstate the team. Varsity baseball was discontinued at UVM in 2009.
Friends of UVM Baseball called the meeting after SGA passed a resolution stating that they supported the effort to bring back Division I baseball and softball to UVM, club baseball coach James Carter said.
SGA and Friends of UVM Baseball, hope to work with big-ticket donors to raise $4-6 million to create a program, Maulucci said.
While SGA has met with the committee on multiple occasions, this is the first time there has been a real step forward, he said.
There has been an ongoing discussion to bring the team back for several years.
The previous athletic director was not receptive to the cause, but the new director, Jeffrey Schulman is, Carter said.
“I understand and respect the passion of the Friends of UVM Baseball, but we are not in a position to add another varsity sport if it was at the expense of any of our existing programs,” Schulman said.
For a long time, the goal of the organization was to get the attention of the athletic director and UVM administration, Carter said.
Now, since it has gotten that attention, the main focus has shifted to fundraising efforts to make baseball at UVM a reality again, he said.
Friends of UVM Baseball plan to be donors in this cause, Carter said.
With this money, the athletic department will be willing to have a serious discussion about when and if a Division I baseball team could return to Centennial Field, he said.
“The return of varsity baseball is contingent on a transformational philanthropic success of the Friends of UVM baseball,” Schulman said.
Some athletes have chosen to go to other schools that offer Division I baseball because it is not an option at UVM, Carter said.
“Two years ago, I personally spoke to seven players who said that if D1 baseball was an option, they would have attended UVM, but instead were recruited by other schools,” he said.
Centennial Field, which has been in use since 1904 according to UVM’s website, is one of the oldest collegiate baseball fields in the U.S..
The field is major league quality, but goes to waste during most of the year, Carter said.
“Growing up, I always thought it would be awesome play on Centennial Field like the UVM varsity team,” said senior Ryan Connor, president of UVM club baseball. “Had varsity baseball been an option at UVM, I would have been looking to play at UVM or try out as a walk-on once getting here.”
Some members of the club team feel that UVM would be a more marketable school with the return of varsity baseball.
“There are a lot of kids from Vermont who can really play the sport,” said senior Thomas Roberts, club baseball team captain.
One student, sophomore Miranda Zigler, who works at Chatty Cats, said some alumni are passionate about bringing baseball back, and some refuse to donate to UVM until varsity baseball is brought back.
“I was warned that sometimes you will call someone and ask for a donation, and they’ll just yell ‘Bring it back!’ and hang up on you,” Zigler said.
Friends of UVM Baseball plans to follow its motto of “collaborate, cooperate, communicate, consummate and hopefully celebrate”.
The cooperation of SGA and the athletic director on this matter is greatly appreciated, Carter said.
“UVM is great about providing opportunities to its students,” Roberts said. “Varsity baseball would be another great one.”