Illegal Bat Tampering Rears Its Head Again

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

INDIANAPOLIS — Illegal bat tampering has reared its ugly head once again in college baseball, according to Elvis Dominguez, chairman of the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee.

An unusually high number of people reported illegal bats being used during the 2016 season which alarmed the Rules Committee.

So much so that the Rules Committee would like to see bat testing prior to NCAA Division I Regionals, Super Regionals and the College World Series in 2017, if approved by the proper committees. For the past few years, bat testing has taken place prior to the College World Series.

Going a step further, Dominguez said that members of the committee would also like to see bat testing within NCAA Division I Conferences and go after players who use illegal bats with a penalty so tough that it would make a young man think twice about doing it.

“If a young man is found to have taken steroids, he will lose 365 days of eligibility,” said Dominguez, also the head coach at Bradley University.

“Several members of the Rules Committee feel such a penalty might not be out of line for a player caught using an illegal, high performing bat. I can tell you that members of the Baseball Rules Committee were not too happy with all the calls we received last season about illegal bat use.”

Dominguez said that three NCAA Division I leagues will utilize bat testing in 2017 in the Southeastern, Big 12 and Missouri Valley conferences.

 “To stop this problem, we would prefer every conference in NCAA baseball on the Division I level test bats. But we can’t make everyone do it this year.

“Before we make it mandatory for all NCAA divisions, we must see if the $1,350 cost of purchasing these machines is doable for conferences on all NCAA levels. Any time you have a cost associated with a rule, you must be very careful you don’t mandate it across the board without some research.

“I was on the NCAA Rules Committee back in 2008 when we began formulating plans to use the current BBCOR specification bats on the market,” said Dominguez.

“Once the regulations went into effect for these bats, we thought the problem of high performance bats was over. But last season, the Rules Committee got more calls than we ever expected on players utilizing illegal bats that had been rolled or had the barrels shaved for more trampoline effect.

“In some cases, you were seeing 6-7 batters from the same team using the exact same bat which is a telltale sign that an illegal bat was being used.

“When we got to the College World Series where bat testing is utilized, a number of bats (20) did not pass and were taken out of play before the CWS started.

Dominguez explained what the Missouri Valley Conference plans to do in 2017 for bat testing.

“The plan is to test every bat for both conference teams prior to a series. A special colored sticker will be put on each bat which is next to impossible to remove. That week we might use a red sticker. The following week, it could be gold and so on. Then ONLY those bats with the proper stickers will be allowed to be used in those games.

“During mid-week games and other non-league games, both coaches must agree to bat testing. Doing well against non-conference teams is so important to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.”

Dominguez said that many NCAA Division I teams have sponsorships through bat companies.

“A school may use a certain brand name bat. But this doesn’t prevent players from purchasing their own bats through bat doctoring firms that have been rolled or had the barrel interior shaved for greater trampoline effect on hit balls. Or they can send their own personal bat to these companies to be doctored.”

Bat rolling is a process that can add significant pop and distance to a baseball bat. By rolling a bat illegally, unethical people enjoy the bat’s maximum potential from the very first swing without putting all the wear and tear on it.

The bat is placed between two rollers and then pressure is applied so that as the bat passes through the rollers as the bat’s fibers are stretched out.

This causes the fibers to become more flexible which greatly improves the bat’s trampoline effect when balls hit the barrel resulting in increased batted ball speed and distance. It will make the sweet spot bigger and much more consistent as well.

Not only that, but the bat barrel walls are being shaved on the inside for greater trampoline effect as well.

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