WINCHESTER — Umpqua Community College’s president and athletic director are proposing to bring back baseball, which was dropped after the 1985 season to the dismay of fans.
UCC President Joe Olson said he loves baseball, but he’s motivated by the need to attract students and strengthen the college’s ties with the public.
“I think there is a lot of support for baseball in the community,” Olson said. “It’s a way to increase enrollment and outreach to the community to build a positive vibe to community interests.”
UCC’s baseball program ended a 10-year run after the 1985 season. The team was an on-field success, making two trips to the National Junior College World Series.
Off the field, players struggled in the classroom, comparing unfavorably with grades earned by basketball players. Also, the college’s president at the time, I.S. “Bud” Hakanson, said that to be successful the baseball budget would have to be closer to $30,000, rather than its $11,000.
Several high school and youth baseball coaches unsuccessfully petitioned college trustees to change their minds and keep the program.
Former UCC baseball coach Dan Withers said “a program can be a plus from an economic standpoint.”
“When I coached and taught there, I thought there was a need (for baseball),” he said. “It was a successful program to get local athletes, quality athletes. It helped the economics of the college and community. Quite a number of those kids went on to be successful at other colleges.”
Athletic Director Cheryl Yoder said she’s been working on reinstating baseball since 2006.
“You take a big step when you add a program back in,” she said.
The college projects fielding a team would cost almost $124,000 for scholarships, coaches’ salaries, travel, uniforms, equipment, field maintenance and other expenses. The team would likely play at Legion Field in Stewart Park in Roseburg.
Revenue, mostly tuition paid by players who would have enrolled elsewhere, would be close to $150,000, according to the college’s projections.
Yoder calculated that 30 new students would bring in $128,160 in tuition. Athletes must be full-time students to be eligible to play.
The college has been trying to figure out how to attract more students, Yoder said.
“To me, it’s one of the most ideal solutions,” she said. “We are missing the boat with baseball in Douglas County.”
Other revenue sources would include ticket sales and sponsorships.
Olson said he will make a proposal to the trustees in February.
“I think, given the popularity of baseball and success the college has had in the past, it’s a worthy endeavor,” Olson said. “I’ve been getting inquiries since I got here (in 2011) about bringing the program back.”
Yoder said she has met with faculty, staff members and students to gauge their interest in a baseball program.
“So far, everything has been extremely positive. I haven’t gotten any negative comments at all,” Yoder said. “Students want more student life. Athletics are a big part of that.”
If trustees approve, baseball could return in the spring as a club sport, a prelude to fall practice and intercollegiate competition next year.
Yoder said that once baseball was in place, the college would look at women’s softball to comply with Title IX, a federal law requiring equal athletic opportunities for men and women.
UCC fields a women’s volleyball team and men and women’s basketball teams.
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a way to increase enrollment and outreach to the community to build a positive vibe to community interests.