Could Arizona State Baseball Still Make The 2011 NCAA Field?

April 1, 2011

NCAA Appeals Process Ongoing…

By Contributor Kevin Kennedy

One month into the college baseball season, the Arizona State baseball team has showed that it is not affected by the possibility of not playing in the 2011 NCAA Tournament because of NCAA sanctions. The Sun Devils are 18-6 heading into this weekend’s Pac-10 home series against Oregon.

Sun Devils head coach Tim Esmay

They have notable series wins against New Mexico, Auburn, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts, and Arizona, which all made the 2010 NCAA Tournament field. They also split a recent two-game set at Cal State Fullerton.

ASU may seem plenty motivated for the season, but right now there actually is reason to believe the Sun Devils could play in this year’s tournament.

In December, when the NCAA hit the program with the postseason ban for lack of institutional control charges, the school planned to appeal. When a school appeals an NCAA penalty the charges do not go into effect until after the appeals process is completed. According to the Arizona Republic, the appeal hearing is set for May 16.

Though the chances of the postseason ban being lifted are still slim, the May 16 date is significant because it comes two weeks before the selection for the 64-team NCAA field.  If the appeals committee does not rule on the case before May 30,  Arizona State may end up in the tournament.

There is current precedent to believe the committee will not have made its ruling before the 30. Southern California went before the appeals committee for its football postseason ban on January 22 and has yet to hear back almost two months later.

If the appeals committee rules against ASU after the start of the 2011 tournament then the team would not be eligible for the 2012 tournament.

Regardless of what happens to the team with the NCAA, second-year head coach Tim Esmay has done a great job steering the team through another year of questions and hardships. Last year it was how the team would handle Pat Murphy leaving the team suddenly because of the NCAA investigation.

In 2011, other than the possible tournament ban, the team has had to deal with the serious injury to freshman outfielder Cory Hahn, who injured his neck February 20 sliding into 2nd base against New Mexico. He had surgery and is currently rehabbing at home in California, but few other details have been made public. The team has honored Hahn by wearing wrist bans and his number on their hats and socks.



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