Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, June 13, 2024
Image from iOS.jpg

UW-Madison: The only Big Ten university without a varsity, Division I baseball team

The baseball season is underway in college towns all across America — but not in Madison.

Josh Caron is a baseball player from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. The catcher is in his sophomore year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was recently named to the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award Watch List, according to Nebraska Athletics. Throughout high school, Caron was recruited by several other Division I schools before ultimately choosing Nebraska. The schools that recruited Caron included Ohio University, the University of Central Florida, Eastern Michigan University and Saint Louis University. 

However, the Big Ten university just 20 minutes from Caron’s hometown was not on this list. 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is the only Big Ten university without a Division I varsity baseball team. The baseball team at UW-Madison was cut in 1991 and has yet to return. This means the university has missed out on recruiting local talent like Caron for over 30 years. 

While there is not a varsity, Division I baseball team at UW-Madison, baseball still exists on campus in the form of a club program, consisting of a Division I and a Division II team. The Division I club baseball team won its conference last spring and was undefeated during its fall 2022 season

Joe Cornelius is a junior at UW-Madison and vice president of the club baseball team. Cornelius is just one of many club baseball team members who would like the opportunity to potentially play for the UW-Madison baseball team if it returned to the university. Cornelius claimed he and his teammates would also love to have a varsity, Division I baseball team to root for on campus. 

“We all show up to the softball games now as a club to watch them, but having something other than softball to go watch in the spring would just be a lot of fun,” Cornelius said. 

Watching outdoor sports in the spring might sound enticing to avid baseball fans like Cornelius and the rest of the club baseball team, but many spectators do not look forward to sitting through a baseball game in the unpredictable Wisconsin spring weather. 

Doug McLeod is a UW-Madison Athletic Board member, university professor and alum. McLeod explained that the unfortunate Midwestern weather during the spring season is just one of the factors standing in the way of an official baseball team returning to campus. 

“Nobody really wants to go out in the cold, rainy April,” McLeod said. “Fall is a much longer, more pleasant season for outdoor sports.”

At UW-Madison, football is both incredibly popular and profitable. Cornelius feels the extensive projects for the football team can become frustrating when there is still no baseball team. 

However, McLeod believes that without football and the revenue it creates for athletics, there would not be an opportunity for the club baseball team or any other club sports to operate. 

“If you look at the balance sheet, football is paying for a lot of stuff,” McLeod said. 

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox

McLeod explained the budget for Wisconsin Athletics stands separate from UW-Madison funding, so balancing the budget is an important component that goes into deciding which sports teams the department can finance. Since baseball is not a revenue sport, it would be difficult for the program to generate funds for the athletics department. 

“Baseball would not be a money-making sport,” McLeod said. “When I went to UW baseball games, there were probably a couple dozen people in the stands.”

Title IX is another factor that prevents a varsity, Division I baseball team from returning to the university. McLeod explained that if a baseball team were to make a comeback at the university, another women’s sport would also need to join in order to uphold Title IX. 

While McLeod does not think it is presently realistic for a varsity baseball team to join the university, he still sees UW-Madison as an institution that combines excellent academics with outstanding athletics, factors that could potentially attract baseball players to the school.

“If I was a high school student right now, this would be one of the places that I would want to be,” McLeod said. 

Similarly, Cornelius believes UW-Madison could attract impressive baseball players if it had a team for them to join. 

“Based on how we’re able to recruit for basketball and football, we’d be able to pull the best talent from everywhere,” Cornelius said. “Everybody would want to come here.” 

Caron understood UW-Madison was not in the cards for him when it became apparent he would be playing baseball in college. Upon his arrival at Nebraska, he saw what life was like for athletes who get the chance to play for their home team.

“Seeing how they get to play for the team that they grew up rooting for, it kind of makes me jealous. They know everyone here. They’re friends with everyone. I feel like I missed out on that opportunity,” Caron said. 

Even though Caron plays for another Big Ten university, he hopes a baseball team returns to UW-Madison. He believes many people fail to recognize the excellent baseball talent in Wisconsin and wants to see those local players compete at the Division I level if UW-Madison could provide them with a team to play for. 

“It'd be a cool thing to see the place where I grew up really put Wisconsin on the map in terms of baseball talent …” Caron said. 

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Cardinal