Innings with Charles Bloom
By Phil Stanton
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
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
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
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
Inning – What part does baseball play in the new SEC TV package
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
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)