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June 12, 2015

Dave Heeke

Craig Keilitz

Damani Leech


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with the 2015 State of Collegiate Baseball press conference. I've got Damani Leech, the NCAA Manager of Championships and Alliances; Dave Heeke, Director of Athletics at Central Michigan University and chair of the NCAA Baseball Committee; and Craig Keilitz, the Executive Director of the American Baseball Coaches Association.

DAMANI LEECH: Happy to be here today. Thanks to everybody for showing up. Certainly, the state of baseball, I think we feel really good about where college baseball is right now as well as the baseball championship. Dave and the Committee did a great job working hard to evaluate teams throughout the season and putting together a great bracket and administering the Tournament up to this current point. We're really excited about the eight teams we have here in Omaha this week. Certainly, eight great, strong brands, great fan bases, certainly great players when you look at who was drafted here recently. So all of that is really exciting. Then from a fan standpoint as well, really excited about the World Series here in Omaha and all the exciting things we have in store. So, again, really excited about it.

Q. First of all, welcome back, everybody. Question for Dave: As the overall chairman of the Division I Committee putting together the field of 64, that's a daunting task. That is not easy to do, but with parity around the country, I guess my question to you is, with the committee members, how do you feel about now looking back at what you went through in February, March, April, tracking the teams, coming up with the difficulty of bracketing everything, and six 1 seeds are here, a 3 seed, and a 2 seed, and here we go?
DAVE HEEKE: Absolutely. I thought the Committee did an outstanding job. We worked really hard through the entire season to evaluate teams, to monitor progress of teams. We're working in different regions. Committee members are assigned to different regions. So we tracked the game during the regular season very, very closely. Our work, when we get to Indianapolis, is challenging. There are, as you said, parity and the ability of our programs to listen, to put themselves in the best position to be evaluated by the Committee has made it challenging, has made it -- those fine lines have become finer that they're beginning to split those hairs. So we have a lot of outstanding ball clubs, and I think we put together a very good field. Looking back, I think it's been some drama-filled baseball. There's been some incredible matchups, and once again, it provided some great, great stories, and we get to Omaha with a tremendous field. So from a committee standpoint and the chair, I feel very, very good about where we are and looking forward to the new chapter that will come out of here in Omaha.

Q. I'd like all of you to address this if you could: The flat seam ball seems to have a purpose; home runs are up, offense is up. I'm wondering what kind of feedback you're getting from coaches about it. A couple of guys were in here earlier, and they thought perhaps an even livelier ball might be the next step here.
CRAIG KEILITZ: Well, it's a great question. Throughout the year, I've been talking to coaches around the country and all the divisions, but Division I in particular, talking about what they feel about the new ball. I'll tell you this, going into it, I don't know that coaches felt the flat seam was going to be the answer. We were able to put together a survey, and we'll survey our coaches throughout the year on different issues, and that's probably the most important issue at this time. I'll release this to everyone. But here's the five questions: "What is your overall impression of the new flat seam baseball?" And either highly favorable or favorable, we were at 90 percent. 89.8 percent are highly favorable or favorable with the new ball. Then we said, "Speaking on behalf of your players, what is the general feedback you received about the new flat seam baseball from your hitters?" And that is that 87.2 percent. So they're in favor of it. The one that was probably the most interesting is throughout the fall, what we were hearing was the pitchers may have a difficult time throwing either the slider, the curveball, probably the change-up would work well for them, but they were worried about that. But question 3 is, "Speaking on behalf of your players, what is the general feedback you've received about the new flat seam baseball from the pitchers?" And they're at 67, 68 percent are either highly favorable or favorable on pitchers. And then the other one I think is equally as important is either neutral or no difference, 24.2 percent. So overwhelming, the pitchers are in favor of the new ball as well. Just talking to the coaches and so forth, they feel the breaking ball is working better, slider, and interesting enough -- and the science doesn't back this up -- both the coaches and the student-athletes feel like they throw the ball harder, and the numbers are showing that. We don't have a comparison study to go against that, but that was interesting. Then 4, "Do you feel the new flat seam baseball has improved the college game as it was intended?" This is very important. We're looking at 89.6 percent of our coaches feel that has done that. That is great news to us. And then the last question, I thought this was equally as important, "Do you feel the further changes to equipment are needed to improve the college game? If so, explain." And they gave some comments on that. We're sitting at "no", 81.8 percent. So 81.8 percent feel that these are the changes that really improved our game and we didn't need further changes. Now, I know, as human nature, we're going to be talking about this next year or the year after. That is the raw data, and I'll be able to get this online and get that so you can get all of this information.

THE MODERATOR: Do you have anything to add, Dave?

DAVE HEEKE: No. I think from the Committee's perspective, we're always very aware of the equipment and modifications of equipment. It's an important part of the game, but we've got to also manage and respect the integrity of the game and how it's played. So we feel very good about where the ball and what it has done for the game. On the ground, talking to players as I do, being at games and talking to coaches, everyone has been very pleased with the performance of the ball. It has directly impacted to this point an improvement for our game. The ball flies a little bit better, and we seem to be very pleased with that, and it doesn't seem to have any negative impacts. When we hear about pitching, and from every angle it seems to be positive. As I said, as we get to Omaha, let's get the wind blowing out, and we'll have lots of home runs here. Certainly, there's the elements, and there's those pieces that are important, but we are very pleased with the ball and the performance of that. We'll continue to monitor that. We'll continue to look at it. It's important. But right now we feel really good about it.

DAMANI LEECH: I think I would just kind of shed a little light on more process than anything, in terms of how we interact with the ABCA. Craig and I talk throughout the year. They do a great job of teasing out those kinds of issues through their ability to survey all the coaches and get away from the extremes of just one coach who has the microphone and what they happen to say and really give us some great data to rely on. Then we meet with them. So Craig brings in four or five coaches every fall and meets in person with the baseball committee. We spend half the day talking about some championship and some non-championship related issues. Then during Selection Weekend, sometimes we just kind of get to a point where we're sick of arguing, and then we'll also dedicate time to talk about non-championship issues and did that again this year, spending about an hour or so talking about those kinds of issues. So just from a process standpoint, that's how that information tends to flow throughout the year.

Q. For Damani and Dave, this year a couple of unusual scenarios with the Super Regional with Arkansas. What's your take on how those unfolded? Do you view those as successful?
DAMANI LEECH: I'll talk about the history of it, and you can talk about your perspective on this year. I guess the first thing I'd say is it's not terribly uncommon. We have institutions that, for one reason or another, are unable to host. We've seen it in recent years, and they've hosted off campus. Sometimes it's right off campus at a local Minor League ballpark, and other times it's a little further down the road. We saw that with Purdue and this year with Santa Barbara. So as we talked through it with the Committee, we wanted to make sure they understood the history of this happening. So that's not uncommon. And then again in the Arkansas-Missouri State scenario, you do in some cases get institutions that just don't submit bids for latter rounds. We try to tell institutions at that time, hey, you only submitted for this first round. Did you mean to do that? Sometimes they'll submit it. In other cases, there are just facility conflicts, and in that case, we'll go to another site. Again, that's not uncommon. We saw that a few years ago when Cal hosted it at Santa Clara. So, again, not uncommon, and that's the kind of information we try to deliver to the Committees as they're making their decision. In terms of how this year went, I'll let Dave talk about that.

DAVE HEEKE: Again, just to bounce off Damani a little bit, the Committee is well-informed at all times of the hosting positions of different programs. We understand the dilemmas that they maybe face. So we're taking that into consideration as we select hosts. First and foremost, we look at performance. That's where we start with the field. That's how we seed the teams. And that's how we ultimately move into the hosting rounds. Performance and the background of those programs is what gets them into a position to be considered. Then we look at some of those other things. From my perspective, I feel that both scenarios worked out. They are what they are to a degree. I thought they worked out. The Cal-Santa Barbara situation was unique, but we saw good crowds. We saw excellent baseball there. It allowed the game to glow a little bit in that region, move around and maybe allowed for some other people to attend that might not have if it was located in a different location. From our perspective, we thought it worked, and we were pleased with it. Every situation has its unique characteristics, but we're very careful to listen to what the NCAA lays out for us, respect where those teams are, how that may impact those teams, but then make the very best decision we feel we can make.

DAMANI LEECH: If I could just follow up. What we'll do after the fact from a formal standpoint is survey everybody who was involved. We'll survey the teams who were there, "Tell us about your experience. How did it go?" We have site reps who were there, survey them. Get their feedback, get feedback from the umpires, "What was the experience there for you?" And build that into sort of our historical document. So that, when we go back to sites we've been in previous years, we keep notes on those, and we'll follow up with those institutions and say, hey, you're going to be hosting again. Here are three or four things that came up last time. Want to make sure you've taken care of those.

Q. Dave, a followup question. How difficult is it sometimes in the seeding process, when you look at the teams geographically, what you have, what's on the plate so to speak, and where you have to send them, and then people look at the 2 and 3 and 4, and they're going, well, why aren't they there? Why is somebody here? It's kind of interesting because people are starting to follow that more and more. That's hard to do, isn't it, as far as balancing it all? Are you pleased with that process how geographically you maybe have to send certain teams to certain parts of the country? And try to regionalize it as well for economies of scale as well, I guess.
DAVE HEEKE: Again, we start with rewarding teams based on performance. That is how we select our national seeds and certainly all of our 1 seeds. That begins to dictate how the regionalization, so to speak, starts to be defined. And then we begin to slot in the other teams per the championship requirements. We have a regional nature to the championships, but we look for those alignments, and that's how we build the field. With respect of seeding, we never allow that to somehow not -- we don't allow the integrity of the seeding to be compromised, but we will regionalize to a nature, to a certain nature. And I've said this before, it has been great for the game. There are some tremendous Regionals. While those are closely confined and teams come from a real similar area, it also builds great fan interest. It's outstanding from a student-athlete perspective, from mothers, fathers, families, friends to be there to attend. Those are all real decisions. Those are all real considerations that we need to take into account as we build those, and not least to say, those places that are hosting, they enjoy having large crowds. There is a risk to those schools that are hosting from a financial perspective, and that's good. Again, as an athletic director sitting in that chair, I understand those dynamics as well. So it's not easy, but I feel good about how we build the field.

Q. This whole thing with the scheduling of the sites is pretty common thing we hear from our followers and fans. I just had a couple of things if you guys could clarify. I pretty much know the answers, but it would be good for you guys to mention them. The first was someone said, couldn't Missouri State have been out with a Minor League team? I believe there's a policy the NCAA has for a facility in that you can't share off and on throughout the day, if you could comment on that. The second one is reopening the bidding if neither team has bid. So St. John's had won on that one side, you guys would have reopened it, correct? And the other thing is what options does Missouri State have? Like how far could they go? Is there a certain thing the NCAA likes to -- obviously, UC Santa Barbara went two hours. Is that kind of pushing the limit? If you could touch on those real quick for the record.
DAMANI LEECH: In short, the first two are correct. The last one, there's no standard about how far you can go away to host. We did have that conversation about Santa Barbara. One about fans, just how financially viable it's going to be if you're playing somewhere out of your traditional footprint. But the other is operational. Again, we're expecting that host institution to run it like an event and run it like an NCAA championship for our policies. In a lot of cases, that means staff being able to have ready access to that facility throughout the week and also in the weeks leading up to the bid process. So if it's someplace that's several hours away, it's going to be difficult for you as an institution to manage that facility if it's a Minor League facility that's not used to hosting NCAA events. That one is a little more of a gray area in terms of how far we're willing to go. We very much had that conversation in the selection process.

Q. I was actually at Arkansas when they were staffing the facility. In each case, the team gets 600 tickets. Has the Committee ever discussed (No microphone).
DAVE HEEKE: We have not had that conversation. That's been a conversation in the handbook of how the tickets, how they're developed. We have not had that conversation.

Q. All three dignitaries, I'm curious, going back to the flat-seam ball question, what is the College World Series factor in this whole equation? It sounds like 80 percent of the coaches really like what they're seeing with pitching and hitting, but if you still have three home runs this year, what are you going to do? I'm curious, each of the three of you, what would be the next step if we remain at three? Pitching is still pretty good here.
CRAIG KEILITZ: I personally feel there's a couple different parts to that. Everybody thinks it's the equipment or fence distance, the wind and different variables, but the one thing we haven't touched on is the level of pitching. I know it's not a new idea, but when you're facing everybody's number 1 or number 2 or maybe a 3, and then have a day off, the pitching level is so high, we're going to see less home runs. One thing I personally would like to see, because I think fans would like to see this, is for it not to change the game. If a ball is hit very well and should be a home run and turns into an out, that's where I have a problem. Just not the pure number of home runs, where it could change the outcome of the game based on this. And the other thing is, let's see how it plays out so we can make a very sound decision moving forward. The easy thing is, well, let's move the fences. Do we move them in too close? Is it not close enough? I think there's a lot that has to go into it. I think we made a great step in the first direction with the ball change. We'll let it play out and see how it takes place and see what it does for our championship.

DAVE HEEKE: I would just add one. We have the privilege of watching great pitching. Pitching has never been better in our game. There's just outstanding pitchers, and it's hard to hit. It is hard. I think we've taken a very good approach at studying what's going on with the ball to make good data-driven decisions, and I think that's important. We all have from-the-cuff thoughts, and we like to express those sometimes, but you've got to step back and really evaluate that in its totality. Not just what we did here or there, but how that all comes together that's right for our regular season and also right for the championship. Those all need to be brought together and discuss a little more and then we'll do it.

DAMANI LEECH: Another thing to look at is on the defensive side. I think we all noticed towards the end of the series, outfielders were basically playing deep infield. So the home run is another thing we hope to see back in the game this year. So the threat of the home run, outfielders playing a little farther out, more true in terms of their natural position, which is going to open up offense. So you may not see as many home runs, but you may see singles and doubles in critical situations that are still moving people around the bases.

Q. Craig, just what has the reaction been from the coaches now four years into the changes of the formula weighted for road wins? And, Dave, do you guys as a committee, is it hard not to, I guess is it hard not to use that formula or focus too much on that formula? The parameters obviously can give you a pretty good indication of how a team is. I just wonder, if you're in the selection process, trying to pull in other data and not just that and trying to make a decision, is it difficult to sort of just use that as part of the process?
CRAIG KEILITZ: Well, I'll be honest with you, I hear very, very little to no talk from the coaches. I really don't. The other thing, I know the Committee does a tremendous job using it as a tool and certainly not a guide. So those are my two thoughts. But I have not heard coaches really talk much about the RPI at all.

DAVE HEEKE: Yeah, the RPI for us is one of the indicators, one of the ways we can begin to categorize teams, but I think, if there are some teams that would be very clear with you that we didn't use the RPI correctly, and I've heard from them as well. But it is one of our tools, and we dig very deep into the information that we're provided, the trending, the other performance measures of the year are all taken into consideration. It isn't a one-person choice. Our entire committee really discusses that, goes over it extensively, and then begins to draw comparisons to groups of teams. Again, being on the Committee twice, I've seen it evolve. I've seen it grow, the formula. Through my seven-plus years of being a Committee member, I think we're in a very good place. I do not see people just -- it is a forced ranking to a degree, but I don't see a lot of people just following the rankings exclusively. When we make decisions in the room, that does not happen. I know that doesn't happen.

DAMANI LEECH: I would adjust two things that I noticed. One is the Committee members relying on each other and the Regional Advisory Committees quite a bit, and specifically, when the Regional Advisory Committee ranks teams differently than the RPI in that particular region. So we have a lot of conversation about that. We rely a lot on those coaches in those regions to say, hey, how do you have those teams in the ACC ranked, for example? That may be different than the way the RPI has them ranked and why? Let's talk about that. And then we also have -- we have a great staff in the room that challenges the Committee a lot as well to say, hey, Committee, here's how you guys now kind of have these teams. Are you thinking about this? Are you thinking about that? Look at who their opponents were in their conference. We talked a lot about that this year, the imbalance of conference schedules. You're in the same conference schedule, but conference schedules and conference opponents can be very, very different. A lot of those things don't necessarily get factored into the RPI.

DAVE HEEKE: I've said this many times, there is no one indicator that's the trump card that causes you to make those decisions. Each evaluation is different, and you have to try to align those factors and those performance measures and draw an outcome from that.

Q. This is primarily for Dave and Damani: One of the coaches this postseason brought up with me going to the 1 to 16 seeding probably more so than any other year I've had coaches come to me about it. From your perspective, I guess a lot of people want to do it. From your perspective, how do you feel about that? How quick could it happen if it does happen? What are the pluses and minuses, in your opinion?
DAVE HEEKE: I would say we don't have a lot of official conversations about that. Our charge is to seed those No. 1s and then determine the national seed. That's the charge of the Committee, and we take that we seriously. Again, we know what's on the line all across the board and how important that is. That's what we do. Outside of something changing from -- that's not in the Committee's responsibilities that they would change those parameters. We just follow those guidelines and then move forward. Certainly, we have opinions, and those are buried in the room. People have some different opinions on how we could do that, but right now we've just really been focused on making sure we get the best national seed. I don't know if you want to add to that.

DAMANI LEECH: I think I would just underscore the difficulty of that. We do that now with the 1 through 8 with just a series of votes and votes and votes and votes to get those rankings almost really two by two, one by one in some cases, and to do that then with 9 through 16 would be really, really difficult. And I don't know -- that would be on the downside. The other downside is you would lose some of the regionalization, and Dave talked about those benefits. And then the upside, I don't know what you get out of it other than just feeling good that you're 9 and you're not 16 because the difference between those teams is so razor thin, that it may look like you have a great matchup, but you may not actually have as great a matchup as you think.

Q. (No microphone) Let's say UC Santa Barbara is a 1 seed, but you have Texas A&M, Florida State, Vandy, we all agree were in the mix for the national seed. There's a difference between those three teams and UC Santa Barbara, correct?
DAMANI LEECH: Not just those teams specifically, but the Committee certainly narrows down a group, particularly when you get to that 8 -- that 7th and 8th national seed. There's a group of four or five teams for that last one or two spots that are clearly different than the rest of the No. 1 seeds. Yeah, there's a difference competitively, but the difference between 9 and 10, I don't know.

Q. Kind of piggy-backing off each question earlier, 7 and 8, the Super Regional hosts kind of went on to the college World Series. Would you guys ever consider ticket realignment just within the Committee, just to kind of help balance out, just like if you host the Super Regional, you wouldn't automatically go to the College World Series?
CRAIG KEILITZ: Can you clarify the question?

Q. 7 of the 8 College World Series teams that hosted are now in the College World Series. There's only one that didn't host that went in. Would you guys consider realigning ticket sales at all to kind of even the fans distributed at different games in the Super Regional?
DAVE HEEKE: You're asking about the 600 for visiting teams at the Super Regional and making that number larger, is that correct? Again, we have not had that conversation. We're faced with somewhat of a unique circumstance this year with the Arkansas situation. We haven't done that. I guess that's my best answer. I'm not going to sit up here and say that. We have not done that. So, again, for us at this time, that's not in our charge to do that. As we follow up and we look back and we begin to evaluate those sites, maybe we'll have some more conversation about it.

DAMANI LEECH: If we get feedback from schools saying they could have used more and wanted more, then we could do that. Again, we'd have to evaluate that across all sites. At every site, there isn't always the demand from the visiting team to go above 600. We deal with it in some of our other sports. Now you're starting to disadvantage the home team because they could have sold some tickets. They're holding tickets, and then the visiting team doesn't take them. And the home team doesn't have time to sell them to their fans because it's too late. Then you get in a conversation are you now obligating the visiting team? Are they financially on the hook for those tickets, whether they take them or not? We can have the conversation, but it takes you down a pretty different path.

DAVE HEEKE: There is that path of how you would allocate and who is obligated for those tickets. They're just not open and we know they're going to sell. There is obligation to that. Schools would have to meet the obligation one way or the other, whether we sell them or not at times. There's a lot of nuances to that we'd have to examine.

Q. The thing about the tickets was also what you were saying, Damani, maybe the visiting team would have a short window where they commit some more, and then they go back to the home team. I can guarantee, I was there, Missouri State would have brought more than 600. It's an obscure thing, but you feel bad for them because they lost the hosting and then this. Following up with what Kendall mentioned, you might remember I asked you the same question last year because I cover the softball. There's two issues, it's matching them up. Florida and Florida State could not both be here. Texas A&M and TCU could not both be here. Back in the day, Clemson and South Carolina and couldn't both be in Omaha. People love those regional matchups. It's great for ticket sales, but they can't both come to the party. That's where it gets tricky. I would hope you guys would at least weigh that in. I don't know if that's a fan's perspective. The question I ask for Craig and Dave, if you guys could just update us on where you see northern baseball right now. It's a hot button topic early with the weather, but obviously, we've seen Illinois put together a great year, the Big Ten. Kent State was here a few years ago, obviously with Tracy Smith at Indiana. Just kind of where you guys see the Northern and Midwest states evolving.
CRAIG KEILITZ: Well, I went to school in Michigan at Central Michigan University oddly enough. I love to see northern baseball do well, and I love to see it for two reasons: Selfishly, because that's where I'm from, but more importantly, I think it's good for college baseball. The way they did in Regionals and so forth was that it was more than just a good record from a northern team. It was good baseball. I think there's a reason for that. The facilities in the North have great ly improved. The level of coaching has greatly improved. Programs are putting more of the resources in it, and they understand that's what their fan base and students in the area would like to see. So I think better baseball gets in -- the better that baseball gets in the North, the better it is for college baseball around the country. I'm excited about where it seems to be trending anyway.

DAVE HEEKE: I'd echo that as well. I'm a believer of the game and a fan of the game around the country. I do believe it's good for our game that we have success in all regions and that we compete. There has been an investment made. Usually, where those investments have been made in programs, you've seen results. You see more investment in the Midwest and in the Northern tier of baseball. We think it's important, and we're going to invest in the sport. We want to be competitive for it. That's good for it.

Q. This is a followup on the RPI question earlier. I'm curious about, from what I understand -- this is for all three of you, if you like: I understand that you get a few more points for road victories, and Dallas Baptist, they're a very fine ballclub this year, but we got a few calls that said they may have artificially been a little bit higher than they should have been, being ranked No. 1 most of the year. Is that factor playing into it, where maybe more teams will be trying to have a lot more road victories or road games scheduled than what they are now?
DAVE HEEKE: Well, I think it goes back to my point that our programs have been very intelligent and have listened and scheduled appropriately and looked for ways to improve their RPIs. That has benefited programs. But going back to my other point that RPI is only one factor we use. We're aware of those things. We look at schedules. We look at where they played, who they played, how they played, wins, all of those things are factored in. Then again, that's back to that performance measure, and then we begin to look at how we will seed teams or how they'll slot into the field. It's been a point. We've heard that before, and the Committee has talked about that piece of the RPI formula. A couple of coaches have brought it to our attention. They do.

Q. This is for Damani: The growth of the game has obviously increased. As mentioned, the Big Ten and Northern schools investing so that, as more teams are committed, they want a piece of the pie, I guess you could say. I think Schlossnagle made mention of it earlier, that the line between winning and losing is thinner than it's ever been. With all that factored in, how much consideration is there to increasing this field of 64 since there are so many teams that are pouring a lot of money and resources into trying to be competitive and there are a lot of good teams left out? I don't know how much or has been an increase in conversation about that? Just curious how much consideration has been made lately in terms of a field increase.
DAMANI LEECH: I mean, specifically, no, we haven't talked about it a whole lot as a committee. I think philosophically, you have to kind of ask yourself a few questions. One, what's the point of the Tournament? In my perspective, the point is to determine the best team in the country, and that field of 64 is who we think have a legitimate argument at saying we deserve an opportunity to compete to be the best in the country based on what we've done in the regular season. We have an automatic qualification process that at least gives every conference the right to send at least one person into the Tournament. The question really for everybody is, once you get past 64, are there other teams beyond that, not just need a reward for a great season, but have a legitimate argument for we think we're one of the best teams in the country and we should be in that fight based on what we've done during the regular season. I don't know the answer to that, but I think that's the question you've got to ask.

DAVE HEEKE: I don't think I could add anything more. That's very similar to what I was thinking.

Q. First on the national seed thing, just real quick again. I guess, to kind of educate us, because I don't know how this stuff works completely, but what is the difference. We talk about the difficulty selecting 16. That's certainly difficult. I know what you guys deal with. But what is different about the way the softball is able to do it that would make it more difficult in baseball? What's the difference between the two sports?
DAMANI LEECH: The short answer is probably I don't know. I think we went through this exercise maybe three or four years ago as a committee and said, okay, had we -- I think we did it during our summer meeting and said, had we actually have seeded 1 through 16, where would we have done it? There were a lot more flights. Teams were playing out of their region. It costs more. There's a toll on teams to have to fly across the country. Then you've got conference matchups. It's the other things we really get into that. You've got how many SEC teams are No. 1 overall seed. To what extent do you want to protect them in the Super Regional. It gets very difficult to protect them in the Super Regional if you're seeding 1 through 16 and doing straight pairings along that line. So then we start making accommodations and say we are going to protect them. Instead of making them the 10 seed, we're going to make them the 12 seed. If you do that, what's the point of seeding 1 through 16? When the Committee had that conversation, and that was a few years ago, we said ultimately, no, let's not head down that path. Where we are now is where we want to be.

DAVE HEEKE: I think that background we found that, while you do open up some new opportunities, you see yourself conflicted in some new ways that maybe you see in softball, where some teams align themselves in that next round in a similar fashion. Just depending on how you slot it in on the 1 through 16. Right now, we think the game and the Tournament is vibrant, and it's robust, it's tremendous drama, there's great focus to those games, to those regions. We don't think it's broken. That doesn't mean that it can't be adjusted to provide, again, all of those pieces and then the best competitive factors that we can align appropriately for each program. It's kind of trying to balance those pieces to get to the best fit. Not an easy, quick, yea, thumbs up, thumbs down answer to that.

DAMANI LEECH: One of the things we heard in our Super Regional followup was from -- and I think we can say this -- was Fullerton playing at Louisville. Again, they're playing out of their traditional time zone, kind of body clock times. Again, that's an issue that gets creative when you send teams from the West Coast to the East Coast in time zone and you're trying to program it for television. So more of those issues get created when teams are kind of flying all over the place.

Q. On a different topic, I'm sure you guys are aware Randy Mazey this spring has his proposal about the season and moving it back. I haven't been able to talk to you guys about it. What are your thoughts on moving the season back that much? Not officially, but just kind of just off the cuff opinion on making that kind of move.
CRAIG KEILITZ: That's a tough question. There's a lot of factors that haven't been brought to light. Moving the season is one thing. I don't think anybody would disagree, is it a better time to play baseball? Absolutely. How does it fit into our academic calendar? How does it fit into school? How does it fit in with internships? The cost? There are costs. Is it best for baseball or is it best for 20 of the top teams in the country? We're talking about meals. If you talk $35 a day, first for a student-athlete, and instead of being a two-week period, you're talking 90 days or three months, how does that work in? The freshman walk-on student-athlete, and every one of these teams are filled with walk-ons. If they pay 100 percent of their school and do it during the school year and doing it during the summertime, what are those costs? How about housing and meals? All of these things that work into it, it sounds like an easy question. Are you in favor of it? On the surface, possibly yes. But if you dig deeper and how it would work with the collegiate model, it's very difficult. I never want to be the guy who puts down why we can't do something. We've got to look into it, but we're a long ways from getting there, I think. Would I like to play baseball during the summertime? Absolutely. Is it the right time to be discussing it? That's debatable.

DAVE HEEKE: I'm on record as saying I think it's an important piece for all of us to continue to talk about. I think adjusting the season in some way is beneficial. The more we can play in good weather is good for the game of baseball, good for the outcomes. There are a number of factors in moving the season dramatically that would need to be addressed. Are we going to go way outside the box and talk about a different model? Are we going to talk about year round school? Are we going to talk about different things like that that would address costs? There are real time costs to programs that, again, a certain element of our population of teams and programs can handle but that others may be very seriously disadvantaged. Even though the weather movement would help them, they're not in a position resource-wise to do that. That would hurt our game to have those programs question if they can continue to do it.

CRAIG KEILITZ: If I could, that is one of ten different proposals that coaches have, and I love that Randy Mazey puts that forward. I love the passion he puts toward that. I want our coaches to continue to think how we continue to improve our game and think through it to better our sport. My job is to continue to manage those things and build trust and talk with the NCAA, with commissioners, with athletic directors to try to make positive change for our student-athletes ultimately. So I like that we continue to have these type of discussions. I think it's healthy for us.

Q. Why is the academic calendar kind of important? Craig mentioned it, and I've heard it a lot in the discussion. Football starts practice in August before school, and volleyball and soccer begin before school and that kind of thing. So just clarify what the importance of not going into the summer or trying to avoid having it flow over.
DAMANI LEECH: I think in this conversation, underscore the point, these are students participating in athletics. That student portion is incredibly important. So the further we shift the season away from the traditional academic calendar is when particularly our college presidents begin to feel a little bit of discomfort about the model that we have. These students, these are athlete that's are also students. If you've got student-athletes who are playing the bulk of their season when the traditional academic calendar is not occurring, when most of the traditional student body is not on campus, that educational and social experience is very different. For our fall sports, one, we fight against that creep, and we have rules about when students can come on campus to start practice. But I also feel that preseason, culturally, people feel that's a little bit different than the bulk of your regular season being in the summer.

CRAIG KEILITZ: We put talking points of what happens every year. But when you look at the academic portion of our teams with the graduation rate and the APR and you compare it with other sports, take a look at that, and I hope someone writes that, what happens on the stage. A couple of talks are home runs, kids getting drafted, national champion. But this other piece of information, I hope doesn't go unnoticed. It's really incredible. When I read it, it's really incredible.

DAVE HEEKE: And I'd just follow up. We did a lot of work with the game of baseball several years ago to focus in on how our students would have success, how we could design our model so they could have success. We believe it's working. We believe it's been impactful. Great work by coaches. Great work by administrators. Obviously, by the NCAA to put our students in a position to be successful academically and have great success on the field as well.

CRAIG KEILITZ: This will be available as well if you'd like to see this to quote it.
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