College Baseball

USC Beaufort, Hardeeville win hosting rights for NAIA baseball tournament games

mmccombs@islandpacket.comApril 18, 2012 

When the University of South Carolina Beaufort baseball program was named a host Sunday for the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round, it was really a result of a decision made in 2010.

The Sand Sharks (31-14, 17-7 Sun Conference) are guaranteed an at-large bid and will host four other teams May 10-14 at Hardeeville's Richard Gray Sports Complex for the right to advance to the NAIA World Series held May 25 to June 1 in Lewiston, Idaho.

But it was USCB's 2010 trip to Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. -- the school's first NAIA tournament appearance -- that inspired athletics department officials to consider a bid to host. That trip cost more than $20,000.

"After going in 2010 and seeing our expenses, we always thought that if we came to this junction again, we were going to consider it," USC Beaufort athletics director Ty Rietkovich said. "We felt like we were going to be in a position to, if not win the Sun Conference, get an at-large bid. So we went from there."

USC Beaufort procurement manager Genia Montford, who also serves as the athletics department business manager, was responsible for putting together the school's bid.

"(The NAIA) evaluates the bids based on the geographical location, the minimum guarantee and the teams' statndings," Montford said. "The minimum guarantee is $10,000, but a team can bid more than that. That's the amount owed to NAIA after the tournament. USCB's bid was $15,500."

While the cost is significant, hosting is cheaper than the likely travel costs, and Montford is confident the school will have the opportunity to come out ahead.

"We put together a business plan that looks at ad sales, program sales, the gate receipt, and we determined that we're saving money by not traveling to another state," Montford said. "We're keeping our dollars local and we have visitors coming to our area to provide a local impact.

"We're keeping not only our dollars here, but also we're bringing dollars from supporters of other teams back to our community."

But USC Beaufort didn't make this decision alone. They included the city of Hardeeville, where the games will be played, in the bid process.

While the USCB bid is $15,500, only $11,500 will come from the school. Hardeeville will commit $4,000 of accomodation tax money and provide security for the event.

"There are only nine locations in the country. That puts us into a classification at the college level that's well-respected," Hardeeville city manager Bob Nanni said. "As a result, we would proabably get the nod for future tournaments. This raises the awareness of the facilities here, and there are some excellent facilities here. Maybe we'll attact other tournaments. Who knows where this will lead?"

Rietkovich, who says this will mean unprecedented exposure for the school, called the bid process a joint effort.

"We couldn't have done this without the city of Hardeeville and their facility," Rietkovich said. "This is going to be a great partnership and a great chance for them to show off their great facility."

Rietkovich and his staff will meet with Hardeeville officials Thursday to begin to turn their bid proposal into reality.

"We had everything laid out in the bid," he said. "Now everything becomes an action plan. We'll have a banquet for (the teams) on our campus. Really, it's just the details of when teams will be practicing and playing, and we can't do that until the selection committee makes its decisions."

For USC Beaufort baseball coach Bryan Lewallyn, who found out about the plans to make a bid about a month ago, this is all still about baseball and his players.

"It's obviously very exciting, and we're fortunate," Lewallyn said. "It's a giant testament to the senior class and the team and how hard they've worked to be the best they can be."

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