Linn-Benton Community College will re-establish its baseball program next spring with an emphasis on the ‘student’ in student athlete.
The decision to again field a baseball team by the spring of 2015 came after months of discussions and work with community members to create a program structure that fosters high completion rates among student athletes and generates significant involvement of the community in supporting the program.
A yet-to-be determined women’s sport will be added by the 2015-16 season to create gender equity among LBCC’s athletic programs. Currently, the college fields teams in women’s volleyball and men’s basketball.
“This plan, which uses athletics as a vehicle to promote student success and involvement, makes us very optimistic about the future of baseball and other sports at our college,” said LBCC President Greg Hamann. “We’re excited and grateful for the opportunity this represents.”
The measurements chosen for baseball will guide other LBCC programs, both athletic and academic, as the college continues to strive for a 50 percent increase in its completion rate and increased community support and involvement, Hamann added.
The major elements of the plan to reintroduce LBCC baseball include:
- A 50 percent college completion rate for athletes. LBCC’s current student success rate is about 22 percent, which combines the percentage of students who earn a degree or certificate or who transfer to a four-year institution – about average for Oregon community colleges.
- Significant numbers of local players. At least 40 percent of baseball players will be from LBCC’s service district or the district of a bordering community college. At least 80 percent will be from Oregon.
- Better connections to the LBCC community. Athletes will be better connected to the LBCC community to ensure it has noticeable positive experience for all students, rather than just student athletes.
Community members who led the effort to develop the plan with LBCC and gather community support include Steve Carothers, LBCC alum and the owner of Relco Truss Manufactures, Dan Segel, also an alum and President of the Corvallis Knights Baseball Club, and Dick McClain, retired LBCC Athletic Director and a former Roadrunner baseball head coach. This group has already raised $40,000 to support the baseball team.
The decision to end LBCC baseball, women’s basketball and some longstanding education programs at the end of the 2013 school year was difficult and painful, Hamann said. The college developed criteria that considered per student costs in programs relative to the college progression rates of those students to decide how to respond to a $2.9 million budget deficit.
“There were no programs we wanted to cut,” said Hamann. “The size of the deficit forced us to make excruciating choices.”
With significant community support, the plan for baseball’s return allows LBCC to re-establish a program with a long and rich history and creates opportunities for student athletes and the community. It also provides a framework for adding other programs to promote student completion as resources allow.
“I’m very proud of the direction we’ve set for ourselves with the help of our community,” Hamann said.