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Bradley Hilltopics

Fall 2007 • Volume 13, Issue 4
Sports Scene
Baseball coach wins 1,000 games Braves approachPromoting parity

Promoting parity in college athletics

by Justin Phelps ‘05

During his 28 years at Bradley, Dewey Kalmer has never coached a Missouri Valley Conference champion or Valley tournament champion. He says that could change in the near future because of new NCAA legislation.

So-called “equivalency sports”—those not including football, basketball, and hockey—will have new academic and scholarship rules to follow starting August 1, 2008.

Specifically in baseball, the NCAA is focusing attention on the Academic Progress Rate of each team. The APR is used to measure classroom achievement based on eligibility each semester, graduation rates of athletes, and the athlete’s advancement toward a degree.

An NCAA committee determined because baseball players were allowed to transfer without sitting out a year, and because few baseball players are on full scholarships making transferring more feasible, the APR of many teams had suffered. Kalmer said the APR in baseball along with basketball and football is the lowest in the NCAA.

To combat this, the NCAA will require any transfer to have one year of residence before gaining eligibility. It will also limit the number of scholarship players to 27 on a team roster from 35, and each player on scholarship must receive a minimum of the equivalent of 33 percent of a grant-in-aid. Baseball teams will continue to have 11.7 scholarships. The indirect result of this academic enforcement will create a more level playing field between private and public schools.

“Up until this time, there’s been a gap,” Kalmer said. “The NCAA, in 1968, put limits on scholarships and that created a large impropriety between private and public schools due to cost difference. Unfortunately for me, during my career, private schools have suffered in equivalency sports. That’s beginning to change, so I see good things on the horizon for Bradley, particularly in baseball.”

Next season, the NCAA will also begin using a common start date to the season. The change promotes parity between northern and southern teams by preventing southern-based teams spreading out the 56-game schedule to 18 weeks instead of 12 weeks for northern schools. The starting date will also put southern schools on the road instead of playing 80 percent of games at home. This reduces the home field advantage in building a record.

Bradley Hilltopics sat down with Kalmer over the summer. Below is a portion of the interview.

Hilltopics: What are your career highlights?
Dewey Kalmer: Perhaps placing Mike Dunne on the 1984 Olympic baseball team and producing four first-round draft picks at Bradley. But that leads to one of my disappointments. We’ve never been able to win the Valley and never been able to win the MVC Tournament. We’ve been close three or four times. Nationally-ranked Wichita State always seemed to be blocking the path.

HT: How has coaching evolved?
DK: In the old days, everybody was a Bobby Knight-style coach where it’s ‘My way or the highway.’ That no longer works. I think if you work in any profession and you want to be successful, you have to make adjustments and changes and you must evolve. The game has become much more mental than ever because of the breakdown of the family, which creates more personal issues.

HT: What or who is your greatest success story?
DK: The satisfaction of a coach is helping to mold highly successful people. I’ve had doctors, lawyers, teachers, coaches, and people from all vocations who have gone on to great success in their chosen fields. I know that somehow I played a hand in their maturation process. I had a young man with a drug problem, who I severely disciplined, come back 10 years later. He told me I probably saved his life, and now he is a lawyer. Those are the kinds of things you look back on and realize what mentoring, teaching, and coaching are all about.

HT: Why did you come to Bradley?
DK: I reached a crossroad in my career at Quincy College where I had to make a decision. I was teaching, administrating, and coaching both baseball and basketball. It was a Division II school, and I decided I had to narrow my profession. Even though I went to college on a basketball scholarship, baseball was my first love. When the opportunity came up at Bradley, I applied, and Ron Ferguson, who was the athletics director then, hired me to be the head baseball coach and assistant athletic director. The work load was still seven days a week but more focused.

HT: Have you ever considered coaching at a different school?
DK: There have been numerous opportunities to leave, particularly in professional baseball. I actually had a head basketball job offer in my second year at Bradley. If you want to get to the so-called top-of-your-field, which, in baseball, would be the big-time universities you see ranked every year, you have to be willing to jump every five or eight years to move up the ladder. You have to weigh that against the effect moving will have on your family. Stability is important in child rearing.

HT: How do you balance family and career?
DK: I’ve always been concerned about my family and what’s best for them and trying to balance that with my career. Many careers are not conducive to family life. I played professional baseball for three years and walked away after being in Triple-A. The reason I walked away from it, to some degree, was I didn’t think it was conducive to family life. I felt family and stability were more important to me than being a professional athlete. Now, I wasn’t dealing with a $10 million salary. That may have influenced a different outcome. At the time, I think the minimum pay in the big leagues was $18,000. Fortunately, I have an understanding wife who realized coaching was a seven-day-a-week job. She was very instrumental in raising our two daughters, Shannon, a therapist in Chicago, and Stacie ‘99, a nurse in Chicago. Coaching can be very intrusive to family, but it’s not nearly as bad as being a professional athlete.

HT: What’s in the future for you and your wife, Carol?
DK: I’ll be here next year (2008) for sure. After that, it’s year-to-year. It depends on my health and how things are going. I’ve experienced detached retinas in both eyes and more recently had my right knee scoped for a torn meniscus. I’ve purchased a home in Florida, which, for the time being, will be a winter home for me. Eventually, when I decide to retire, we’ll move there on a permanent basis.

 

Baseball coach wins 1,000 games Braves approachPromoting parity