Scenario: Institution X is playing Institution Z for a three-game weekend series in the sport of softball. During the course of the first game, Institution X’s coaching staff notices that Institution Z places a former student-athlete who exhausted eligibility three years ago in the first base coaching box. As far as Institution X knows, Institution Z already has all of their countable coaching positions and volunteer coach position filled. Institution X believes that Institution Z is violating the limit on countable coaches and has asked the conference office to weigh in.
Issue: Whether a DI softball team can have persons other than countable/exempt coaches and student-athlete serve as base coaches during the course of a game?
Answer: Yes. In the sport of softball, there are individuals other than coaching staff members and current student-athletes who may serve as base coaches. Specifically, the 2017 NCAA DI Softball Playing Rules stipulate the following:
4.3 Base Coach
4.3.1 A base coach may be the head coach, an assistant coach, a team manager or an eligible, uniformed team member who occupies the coach’s box at first base or third base to direct the offense.
Therefore, we know that a student manager is able to serve as a base coach during the course of game. The logical follow-up question is whether he/she is even allowed to perform any functions as the base coach. According to a July 31, 2014 ed column, student managers are allowed to engage in limited on-field activities during competition, including signaling in plays at the direction of a coaching staff member. Therefore, if the base coach in question is a student manager, he/she would be able to serve as a base coach as long as he/she is only following the direction of a coaching staff member and is not making tactical decisions on his/her own volition.
Lastly, we know that student-managers merely need to be enrolled as full-time undergraduate or graduate students to participate in their capacity; there is no requirement that the students need to be within their five year period of eligibility to participate as a manager.