Dec. 3, 2008


Nine Innings with Charles Bloom

By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


A Bloom with a view.


Charles Bloom is an Associate Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, with responsibilities for media relations and baseball administration.


A native of Emporia, Va., Bloom graduated from South Carolina in 1985. After working at Ole Miss, he was the Sports Information Director at East Carolina from 1988 to 1995, when he joined the SEC staff.


Bloom is also the immediate past president of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The conclusion of his term came this past summer, as he was the chair of the 2008 CoSIDA Convention in Tampa, Fla.


Bloom recently took some time to answer our questions about the SEC and issues concerning college baseball.


First Inning – You are the SEC Administrator for Baseball. What does that entail?

I administer for the sport of baseball for our office. The duties of this include setting conference schedules, serving as a liaison with our coaches (which also entails running the coaches meetings) as well as with our umpires coordinator, facilitating conference policies and assisting our institutions and the conference office in maintaining a level of excellence in baseball that the conference has enjoyed for many years.


Second Inning – Why did the SEC propose to raise the scholarship limit from 11.7 to 14?

With the adoption of NCAA Proposal 2007-9, institutions are limited to providing a maximum of 27 student-athletes with at least ¼ of a full athletics grant-in-aid starting in August 2009. Our institutions felt that additional steps were necessary in the furtherance of the initiatives to increase graduation rates and the retention of our student-athletes. Low scholarship amounts are a byproduct of the numbers needed to field a baseball team and the low number of equivalencies for the sport. Increasing the maximum equivalencies will allow institutions the flexibility to provide student-athletes with increased athletically related financial aid awards to further reduce the likelihood of transfer to another institution that may offer a greater amount of athletically related financial aid. There are also other aspects as well, such as costs to attend summer terms and the effects on summer baseball.


Third Inning – What is the process this proposal would follow to be adopted?

The SEC institutions moved this forward in its 2008 spring meetings to the NCAA. It is NCAA Proposal 2008-41 and would have an effective date of August 2009. It needs to pass the vote of institutions at the NCAA Convention in January to be passed.


Fourth Inning – After much success in recent years during the regular season, is there pressure on the conference schools to win a national championship not only for their institutions but for the SEC as well?

I think all of our institutions would like to win a national championship for themselves. We would share in that excitement as well. There are many ways to judge the excellence of a conference. We have won our share of national titles, but not many conferences can match the depth of quality baseball programs that the SEC has had. 


Fifth Inning – What other issues are there for SEC baseball?

We just had our conference coaches' meeting in early November. Most of the time was spent discussing national issues such as equipment (mainly bats), non-conference scheduling, management of the length of games, travel and inclement weather policies and future television agreements. 


Sixth Inning – What is the importance of facilities for SEC programs?

I believe that the quality of facilities in our conference is in direct proportion to the importance our schools have put on baseball. Our schools have made a tremendous commitment to the sport with the building and enhancement of facilities. This commitment began many years ago when coaches such as Skip Bertman and Ron Polk showed their institutions that baseball could be a revenue-generating sport if promoted correctly.


Seventh Inning – What part does baseball play in the new SEC TV package with ESPN?

We will have more national exposures with our ESPN package than we have ever had before. The conference baseball tournament championship game will either be on ESPN or ESPN2 and we will have more regular-season games on those two platforms than we have ever had. We'll also work with ESPN to explore regional cable options for additional baseball programming. And, as always, our institutions can produce their own local/regional packages for telecast.


Eighth Inning – How do you keep the SEC Tournament relevant when the eight participating teams usually have NCAA at-large bids wrapped up at the end of the regular season?

We are very fortunate to be in an area of the country where the passion for our schools is very high and that crosses over to the sport of baseball. We have great attendance every game for our tournament and that is because of that passion. When you play in front of 6-8,000 fans for each game, it is easy to get your team excited to play. The tournament has become a "must" for college baseball fans in the Southeast.


Ninth Inning – Is there an SEC assistant coach you think is closest to becoming a head coach?

We have a tremendous amount of young coaching talent in this league. It would be unfair to name just one or two, but just look at guys like David Perno and John Cohen. Both are young guys who were assistants who have won SEC Championships, national coach-of-the-year honors and are big names in college baseball at a very young age.


Extra Innings – How has college baseball grown in your time at the SEC?

I am dating myself a little bit here. I was the color analyst on Ole Miss baseball games in 1988 and I later became SID at East Carolina from 1988-95. During my time at both schools, I remember sitting under a wooden canopy (Ole Miss) and a wooden press box (East Carolina). Now, both of those institutions have state-of-the-art, first-class facilities.  This progress has made the choice of a high school student-athlete who wants to play pro ball, much tougher than before. The quality of coaching in college baseball, the facilities and the education should make college baseball an easy choice for high school baseball players.


(photos courtesy of SEC Media Relations Office)