Originally created 02/18/99

NCAA names panel to study safety risks of metal bats



OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The NCAA on Wednesday named a panel of scientists and sports experts to study the risks associated with metal baseball bats.

The NCAA Baseball Research Panel will meet March 11-12 in Indianapolis and report back to the organization's Baseball Rules and Executive committees.

The NCAA in January adopted rules to make metal bats perform more like wooden ones.

The changes, which take effect Aug. 1, limit the size of the bat. The rules make the bats narrower and are intended to make sure the ball does not leave the bat at any greater speed than 93 mph. The bats being used now send the ball into the field at speeds of up to 113 mph.

The committee's findings will be used to help the NCAA decide whether to fine-tune those rule changes.

"All NCAA rules committees have a clear responsibility for minimizing risk and maintaining the integrity of their sports," NCAA executive director Cedric Dempsey said. "Fortunately, college baseball has been a relatively safe sport. We want to keep it that way."

The board's chairman is California State University-Fullerton president Milton Gordon.

Other members are James Ashton-Miller, a research scientist in mechanical and biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan; Michael Carroll, a professor of engineering at Rice University; Kenneth Johnson, a professor of physics at Southern Illinois University; Dave Keilitz, executive director of the American Baseball Coaches Association; Richard Rasmussen, executive secretary of the University Athletic Association; and Bryan Wesley Smith, head team physician at the University of North Carolina.