Notes: WKU to host new-format Sun Belt baseball tournament in 2012

M. Blake Harrison

Sun Belt Conference athletic directors and head baseball coaches voted unanimously at last week’s Sun Belt meetings to modify the format of the postseason tournament, WKU Athletics Director Ross Bjork told the Herald Tuesday.

Bjork said either the Atlantic Coast Conference’s round robin format or the Big 12 Conference’s pool play scenario will be chosen by the league’s coaches in the coming weeks. The current Sun Belt format is an eight-team, double elimination tournament.

Either potential format would allow the hosting team to play at least three games during the tournament, Bjork said. He added that he believes NCAA tournament-bound teams will benefit from the switch because it will allow for pitching rotations to be set for future rounds.

The swap will be in effect for 2011 and beyond, and Bjork said WKU is slated to host the Sun Belt Tournament in 2012.

Realignment not a hot topic

Bjork said conference realignment was brought up at the Sun Belt meetings, but talks did not progress much.

“Most of it was just what-if scenarios, but obviously when you’re in those meetings, that’s what’s going to be brought up because what’s going on around the country is that type of talk,” Bjork said.

Bjork said WKU has been consistent as an institution “in that we think we’re in a good spot and we’ll see what happens as other dominoes might fall.”

The national conference realignment scene will be stable until the Western Athletic Conference decides what it will do, Bjork said. Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State each left the WAC, which is now a six-team conference. The league needs to expand back to at least seven teams in order to continue to automatically qualify for the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

Bjork said the Sun Belt is in a wait-and-see mode “but also monitoring in a proactive manner too to see what options might exist.”

“It’s kind of a proactive/reactive because you don’t know what anybody else is doing until it might happen,” he said.

Hot Springs’ contract extended

Bjork said the contract for the Sun Belt Conference basketball tournaments in Hot Springs, Ark., has been extended by two years. There is still one year remaining on the previous contract.

New RPI rule

The Herald reported on Monday that a new Ratings Percentage Index-based scheduling rule will go into effect beginning with the 2011-2012 season. The rule was finalized at the Sun Belt meetings. Click here to read more about the new regulations, which require an average opponent RPI better than 150 in an attempt to raise the league’s overall profile.