By Peyton Gray, Staff Writer–
It has been close to 40 years since UTC has had an NCAA Division I baseball program.
The demise of the team occurred in 1982–with many questions as to why–but no definite answer.
There has not been much talk about bringing the team back. Students a school like UTC, one with DI basketball and football, could assume they would have a baseball team.
Chattanooga is already a city that draws thousands of baseball fans each year to the successful Lookouts, and they could also draw fans to the successful Mocs.
The Mocs won 37 games in their final year. They were promised a new stadium, at the corner of Palmetto and Fifth streets. However, changed plans turned the first base side into a parking lot and the third base dugout into the Challenger STEM Center.
This prompted players to immediately start asking questions as to why a successful program could be canceled without any notice at all.
The first excuse the school gave was budget, UTC just didn’t have the money. This is the point at which Coca-Cola said they would double the budget. UTC then said Engel Stadium’s fees were too expensive. Engel responded that the team could play there for free. The school then said the team traveled too much.
The last excuse granted was Title IX– the federal law requiring equal athletic scholarships for women– which was passed three years prior.
The questions cratered after the Title IX response, and UTC stuck with that answer.
UTC honored all scholarships for players wanting to stay, but most left to play elsewhere.
There are currently 357 Division I schools across the nation, only 60 of them lack a baseball team.
The main reason UTC should bring back their baseball team is because they would be good.
The Chattanooga area is a hotbed for athletes. Baseball is a dominant sport in the Southeast, not only Chattanooga itself, but also the surrounding areas: Atlanta and Nashville.
Chattanooga could be a top choice for players who want to go DI, and stay close to home. A competitive team could be built by just recruiting within a 100-mile radius.
Some UTC students have also attempted to prove that it can happen. The UTC Club Baseball Team won the NCBA DII World Series in 2016. They defeated St. Louis in the championship, earning them the No.1 ranking in the nation afterward, showcasing that there is talent within just current UTC students.
UTC should ultimately stop using Title IX as an excuse and bring a baseball team back to campus.
When asked if bringing baseball back was a priority, the Chattanooga Athletic Department declined to comment.