INDIANAPOLIS -- Based on membership concerns and research conducted at its Division I Baseball Championship, the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee is proposing an indefinite moratorium on the use of composite barreled bats in NCAA competition, effective immediately. This action applies to all divisions.
“The committee received a considerable amount of membership comment and concern about composite bats,” said Bob Brontsema, chair of the committee and head coach at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “The rules committee’s role is to investigate issues such as this and further the integrity of the game and the safety of our student-athletes. After a considerable amount of research, dialog and consideration, it seems clear that the membership concerns are legitimate and action is needed.”
During the 2009 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, 25 composite bats were selected for Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) certification tests. Of the 25 composite bats, 20 failed the official BESR test for current NCAA performance levels. Because all bat designs must pass this test before mass production, this research indicates that the performance of such bats changed thereafter, most likely due to repeated, normal use and/or intentional alteration.
“While the committee does not believe tampering or altering of bats is widespread, there is evidence that it has occurred,” said Brontsema. “The larger issue here is that the performance of composite bats improves through repeated, normal use and these bats often exceed acceptable levels. By removing these bats from competition, we believe all bats used will be at or below acceptable levels.”
In proposing an indefinite moratorium, the committee is requesting manufacturers and the baseball community suggest ways that would allow composite bats to be used in play within NCAA guidelines and parameters.
“If alternative testing and policing methods are proven to ensure compliance with current BESR standards, the committee will consider lifting the moratorium,” Brontsema said. “Based on the research, we believe this is the right step to protect the integrity of the game.”
The committee’s proposal will be sent to the membership for comment and be reviewed by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel. PROP’s next conference-call meeting is scheduled for July 29.
Starting January 1, 2011, the NCAA will use a new method for testing and reporting data, called the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR). This decision was announced at the committee’s July 2008 meeting. The performance standard in the BBCOR, the committee believes, will continue the NCAA effort to allow only non-wood products that perform like their wood counterparts.
“The committee hopes that a viable solution can be found with regard to composite bats with the shift to the BBCOR standard in 2011,” Brontsema said. “We recognize that the new performance level will be difficult to meet with traditional non-wood materials. We look forward to working with manufacturers to find a solution to this issue, but realize it may take some time and effort on the part of all interested parties.”