Two recent incidents, both of which would have commanded national attention had they not happened in the relatively obscure world of college baseball, have borne him out. On April 24 at Indiana State's Sycamore Field, several Wichita State players, irritated by the taunts of fans (some of whom were illegally consuming alcohol), charged into the stands and scuffled with the hecklers. Several weeks before that, during a nonconference game at Oklahoma State, coach Dave Schrage of Northern Iowa, a Missouri Valley member, suffered a broken nose, a deviated septum and facial cuts after a Cowboys player allegedly knocked him to the ground during a bench-clearing brawl.
Two incidents do not an epidemic make. But Mitchell says most fights go unreported, so there's only anecdotal evidence of the incivility he says is tearing at the fabric of the college game. "The people who should be doing something about it, the coaches and athletic directors, are sitting on their hands," says Mitchell. "Many of the coaches, in fact, are the worst offenders."
Oklahoma State's response to the brawl was to suspend second baseman Billy Gasparino, the player who allegedly knocked Schrage to the ground, for just three games; coach Tom Holliday did that only after he was advised by an NCAA rules official that that's the mandatory penalty for a player who leaves his position to join an altercation. The Cowboys have denied that Gasparino decked Schrage, although they offered to settle with Schrage by paying his medical bills. As to Schrage's initial demand that Oklahoma State pay him $500,000, lawyer Charles Drake, the only representative of the school who would comment, said, "That's one expensive nose." Schrage says he will file a civil suit.
The harshest penalties meted out after the Northern Iowa-Oklahoma State game were the rest-of-the-season suspensions the Missouri Valley gave to umpires Tim Norman and Dennis Walker because they ejected no one after the brawl; the former may miss a College World Series assignment because of the suspension. Mitchell wasn't happy about that. But at least the conference did something—and promises to do more. "Shame on us that we in college sports have allowed this to happen," says commissioner Doug Elgin. "Shame on administrators everywhere if we keep allowing it to happen."
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]