The dugouts will be empty and the boys of summer won’t be playing baseball at Berea College this season.
President Lyle D. Roelofs announced last Thursday the college won’t be fielding a baseball team this season. In a letter addressed to “Bereans,” Roelofs said the suspension of the season was because of a violation of university and team rules, but didn’t specify which rules were broken. Anonymous sources have indicated the violations were of a serious nature.
“The students who represent our intercollegiate programs are representatives of Berea College,” the letter said. “All student-athletes are expected to abide by team, departmental and college polices that are tied to the high values arising from Berea’s mission and traditions.
“We are committed to assuring that all of our current and future students understand the role of athletics at Berea College so that they will represent themselves, their teams and the college in a manner consistent with Berea College’s great commitments and the expectations of Berea’s student athlete code of conduct.”
Berea College senior Seth Wallingford told the Maysville Ledger-Independent that the players were informed of the decision during a team meeting last Wednesday night before a scheduled season-opener last Friday.
“We asked for clarification and (they) said they could not discuss an ongoing investigation,” said Wallingford, a graduate of Lewis County High School.
The Mountaineers compete in the USA Mid-South Conference and Roelofs extended his apologies to the league and other member schools in the letter.
“It is our earnest hope that Berea will field a baseball team next year,” Roelofs said.
Berea senior Seth Wallingford was disappointed in the decision by the school.
“I’m saddened, upset, I lost my senior season,” Wallingford told the paper. “I lost my chance to contribute significantly to a college baseball team, which has been a goal for me since I was seven.”
Tom Hart, commissioner of the USA South Athletic Conference, said three schools have suspended a sport for the upcoming season and added “suspending before the season is much easier to deal with than suspending for a season, which has happened” and added it gives member institutions an “opportunity to pivot and adjust.”
Hart said the conference has an “unbalanced schedule” and the conference games Berea had scheduled won’t be forfeited.
“We have designated two series (when these four schools play each other) as non-conference,” he said. “The biggest concern is an equal number of conference games for all schools. All remaining schools will now have 21 conference games. Schools that were to play Berea now have to find three games.
“Many of them already scheduled new opponents. Some of them would be against schools planning to play Berea in non-conference action.”