John Carroll University’s women’s softball team faces an uphill battle against 2017 NCAA regulations for the current condition of their softball field dimensions. Currently, JCU’s softball field does not meet the eligibility requirements of the NCAA, and with no available property for development the softball team faces the threat of having to relocate to another field and are currently seeking an alternative to these constraints.
Head softball coach, Nicole Loudin said, “I don’t feel it is a one person’s fault we ended up like this, it is the perfect storm of circumstances. These standards have been adding up, and in 2017 they go to mandate. We are going to have to figure out a solution or there will be no home games.”
Like many areas on campus, the field is landlocked. There is simply no room for adding on anything extra in terms of parking, buildings or sports fields. The women’s softball team is feeling the strain as they find themselves closer to the approaching regulations deadline.
Loudin said, “We are working with an architectual company to fix this problem, there are plans and drawings for what needs to be done to make the field up to the new standards.” While there is the architectural side, finances also play a large part in this issue. The money and where it will come from is slowing down the process. Loudin is worried since construction season is almost over. There is a small window of time to get the field ready for the spring.
The new regulations did not happen overnight, though. The school has been aware that the standards would be put in place by the NCAA since 2012. However, nothing has been done since then. Loudin said, “They gave schools four and five years, and they have been slowly tightening up the standards, and John Carroll is landlocked.”
Student athletes are being affected by this, too. Loudin noted that it makes the softball team feel unimportant, like they don’t matter, and have been affected by the decisions that are all outside of the athletic department.
The 2017 standards and dimensions for the field as listed by the NCAA rulebook are that the pitcher’s lane consists of eight foot lines, the bases need to be 60 feet in distance of each other, fences need to be a minimum of 210 feet in left and right fields and 230 feet in center field.
However, the softball team, coaches, and athletic facilities staff are trying to stay positive, Loudin said, “We are trying to live in the moment and focus on the season while moving forward and being happy.” However, she did state they are worried how not being up to the NCAA standards will affect their ability to recruit, and if this will mean they will lose current students to other schools. Loudin said “it can affect putting a successful program out there.”
Some potential solutions are sharing a field with area schools to get through conference and play all non-conference games away, finding parks in the area that they can play in. These solutions still need to meet the NCAA specifications in order to make it into a temporary facility. There is also the concern over transportation and rentals for these other fields.