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MSU Baseball Penalized by the SEC for a Charity Scrimmage

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MSU received a slap on the wrist from the SEC, but this situation is more proof that the NCAA needs to revise their rulebook.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

According to the Clarion Ledger, MSU Baseball was penalized by the SEC for the scrimmage that the team held in Jackson last October.  NCAA rules state that preseason intrasquad games that are off campus are prohibited in all sports.  Another rule allows for schools to publicize practices that are conducted at a single designated site, if an institution normally conducts preseason activities at that particular site.  This rule exists for teams such as MSU's golf teams, who will eventually be practicing at Old Waverly.  Having the intrasquad game off campus was against NCAA rules, and it still would have been illegal for MSU to have a practice instead of a scrimmage, since the baseball team doesn't normally practice in Jackson.  I'm assuming that the compliance staff and coaches knew the scrimmage was illegal, but decided that more good than harm would come from the charity event since secondary violations are typically not significant.  The SEC penalized the baseball team by taking away two scrimmages during the fall of 2015.  The SEC may be issuing the penalties instead of the NCAA since all NCAA rules apply to the SEC, and these two rules aren't very important.  At the scrimmage, the Blair Batson Children's Hospital raised almost $1,900.

Secondary violations aren't important.  A few thousand are reported to the NCAA every year.  The issue with this situation is not the impact losing fall practices will have on the baseball team next season.  The issue is that a team should be allowed to give their fans the opportunity to come watch a charity scrimmage and donate to a hospital.  It is inconvenient for fans that live in Jackson to drive a few hours to Starkville to watch baseball practice.  More importantly, other schools who may have been interested in publicizing a scrimmage for charity have seen that they will get a small penalty for doing so.

There are two other problems with these two rules.  One is that when some athletes receive extra benefits that the NCAA does not allow, athletes typically pay the amount of the extra benefit to a charity of their choice.  In some cases, such as Todd Gurley and Chris Walker, the NCAA allows athletes to do community service instead of paying back some of the money.  If the NCAA wants to promote community service, they need to make an exemption to the rules about having scrimmages off campus.  Another problem with these two rules is that Georgia and Georgia Tech are playing a baseball game at Turner Field, and the proceeds from the game are going towards Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  That is great for the city of Atlanta and both of the college baseball programs, but it is unfair that it is illegal to have one off campus practice for charity, but it is legal to have an off campus game for charity.  The NCAA has a lot of rules, and it is impossible to have a perfect rulebook.  However, this case is another example of how the NCAA needs to revise their massive rulebook.