Why baseball programs could get more scholarships, football eliminate walk-ons after House v. NCAA settlement

DESTIN, Fla. — Josh Booty could have had it all. 

When former LSU baseball coach Skip Bertman recruited Booty 30 years ago, the offer was not only a scholarship, it was essentially to play shortstop for the defending national champions. 

Ah, but the blue-chip prospect out of Shreveport, Louisiana, was going to play quarterback (on scholarship) and start basically as a walk-on in baseball. Who would pass that up? Heck, playing both sports at a high level worked for Bo Jackson. Why not Booty?

“If you want to play baseball I’ll give you a full [baseball] scholarship,” Booty recalled the legendary Bertman saying. “But why would I not put you on football [scholarship] and make a better team out of [baseball]?”

Baseball intervened without Booty ever taking a ground ball at Alex Box Stadium. The Florida Marlins came with a then-record $1.6 million offer for him to go pro.

Five years and all of 30 MLB plate appearances later, Booty came back to play quarterback for the Tigers in 1999 for two seasons. In that sense, Booty did have it all. The kid, now a 49-year-old entrepreneur, played football for Nick Saban — but not without a lesson. 

College baseball was underserved. Only four programs in the country make money according to U.S. Department of Education figures assembled by consultant Tony Altimore. The scholarship thing, well, that’s been unique. It’s damn hard to manage them on a Division I roster.

The NCAA Baseball Tournament begins this week with a record 11 SEC teams in the 64-team field. That’s an ongoing salute to all the Division I coaches who try to micro-distribute 11.7 scholarships over 35 roster spots. That distribution model makes baseball an “equivalency” sport. FBS football is a “head count” sport awarding full scholarships…


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