It’s no secret Clemson has some disadvantages when it comes to baseball recruiting.
While Monte Lee and his staff attempt to recruit players using the 11.7 scholarships the NCAA allows, schools they compete against on the recruiting trail, such as Georgia, Vanderbilt, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke, are finding other ways to help their players with financial aid.
For instance, Georgia can use the Hope Scholarship, which allows in-state students free tuition to any school in the state as long as they meet the scholarship’s requirements. Vanderbilt, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke, all use large endowments to help fund a player’s financial aid from an academic standpoint.
Some schools also use the academic common market to help lower tuition costs for out-of-state students. According to sreb.com, the academic common market is a tuition-savings program for college students, who want to pursue degrees that are not offered by their in-state institutions. Students can enroll in out-of-state institutions that offer their degree program and pay the institution’s in-state tuition rates.
Clemson did offer the academic common market for a few years, but the school decided to cancel the program earlier this year. Logan Davidson, who was drafted by the Oakland Athletics earlier this week in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft, benefited from the academic common market program.
If Clemson does not have the academic common market or large endowments or the Hope Scholarship, what can the baseball program do to try and counter the advantages its competition has?
The answer is not much. Right now, there is little Clemson can do when it comes giving players more financial aid to come to school. The school and the athletic department are trying to work through that, but Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich has said they are limited in their options.
If a player’s decision comes down to finances, Clemson is going to lose in most cases.
Clemson has tried to counter the issue it has with its lack of scholarship money with a state-of-the-art players’ facility, which has helped some. However, and though the players facilities is just four years old, some schools in the SEC have already passed it and the overall facilities at these baseball stadiums far exceed anything Clemson currently has.
For instance, at Mississippi State it just updated its ballpark and its players’ facility, making it perhaps the best stadium in college baseball to watch a game. The new look Dudy Noble Field cost $68 million.
Mississippi State also built a three-story, 12-apartment complex behind their left field seating area known as the Left Field Lofts. These Lofts are 1,100 square feet with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an open living space with a kitchen.
Dudy Noble Field already holds the record for the largest attendance in a Super Regional Game, against Clemson in 2007 (13,715). That record could be shattered this weekend in the NCAA Super Regional Round. The stadium officially holds 13,000 fans.
At Ole Miss, Swayze Field, which Clemson just visited last week, is not too far behind. The Rebels updated their stadium two years ago, putting in club boxes that stretch from the first base dugout around to the third base dugout. Subsequently they are called the First and Third Base Dugout Clubs.
They also built a new players’ facility for the coaches and players, including the program’s own weight room, which overlooks right field.
More than 10,000 fans can pack into Swayze Field. It had more than 12,000 fans in attendance for an LSU game in 2018 and it had 10,037 fans watch the Rebels’ 6-1 win over Clemson last Saturday in the Oxford Regional.
By the way, the largest crowd to ever watch a Clemson game at Doug Kingsmore Stadium was 6,525 in Clemson’s 4-1 win over South Carolina in 2016.
Also, I have not even talked about the facilities just updated at LSU and Arkansas, plus the new facility going up at Kentucky. For the record, Founders Park in Columbia is not a bad stadium either. With its player facilities and overall stadium amenities, South Carolina is out in front of Clemson, too.
Doug Kingsmore Stadium is a nice facility and it has its own character that makes it special. There is no doubting it is one of the best in the ACC, but Clemson does not just compete against the ACC.
After seeing Ole Miss’ facilities last week and also seeing the upgrades at Georgia and Mississippi State with their baseball facilities in recent years. It is obvious Clemson needs to continue to improve Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
When it comes to football, Clemson’s facilities are hands down the best in the country. The Allen Reeves Football Complex, the Poe Indoor Practice Facility and Memorial Stadium are second to none in almost every way. No one in the ACC can even come close to touching the Tigers’ football facilities and most in the country can’t either.
It’s time for Clemson to make more of an effort with its baseball program and make its facilities some of the best in the land. It just might be its only shot to keep up on the recruiting trail.