FREDERICK, Md. – The Hood College Board of Trustees approved the addition of baseball as the Blazers' 21st NCAA Division III athletic program.
"The three reasons we are implementing intercollegiate baseball is to provide existing Hood students the opportunity to compete, to attract new students from the Frederick area and beyond who are interested in participating in baseball to consider enrolling at Hood, and finally to provide exciting family entertainment for the Frederick community," said Hood College President Dr. Ronald Volpe.
The Planning and Budgeting Committee, with input from the campus community, submitted a strategic plan to the Board of Trustees for approval two years ago. The plan included new academic programs, campus renovations and implementation of additional athletic programs.
The Blazers will begin a search for the program's first head coach immediately to enable the coaching staff to spend the 2013-14 academic year recruiting 20-30 incoming student-athletes. Hood will begin participation in the 2014-15 academic year, beginning with the non-traditional fall season and continuing with an NCAA Division III varsity schedule in Spring 2015.
"This has always been a great baseball area," said Director of Athletics Tom Dickman. "With that in mind, our primary recruiting area will be right here in Central Maryland."
Baseball is the first addition since men's and women's indoor and outdoor track & field were added in 2005-06. It also brings the tally of men's sports at Hood to nine.
Blazer baseball is expected to compete in the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic Conferences. Other members of the Commonwealth include Albright, Alvernia, Arcadia, Elizabethtown, Lebanon Valley, Messiah, Stevenson, and Widener. The following programs compete in the MAC's Freedom Conference: Delaware Valley, DeSales, Eastern, Fairleigh Dickinson, King's, Manhattanville, Misericordia, and Wilkes.
Hood will travel to Arcadia on March 13, 2015 for the Blazers' first Commonwealth game, with the Knights returning the trip the following day for the first home conference date for the program.
"Hood's adding baseball at this time is fortuitous as we will only have seven Commonwealth sponsors after 2014," noted MAC Executive Director Ken Andrews. "An eighth team makes the round robin schedule perfect. This move reinforces Hood's commitment to a broad based program which is a major tenet of the MAC."
In all, 370 institutions competed in Division III baseball in 2013. Baseball is the second-largest men's sport behind football with almost 12,000 participants at Division III institutions, based on the most recent NCAA Sports Sponsorships and Participation Rate Report. Squad sizes averaged 32 players per team, the most since information began being collected in 1981.