SWAC baseball tournament expected to move to Baton Rouge or New Orleans

Advocate staff photo by John Oubre -- Southern's Harley Wiltz stretches for the throw at third base and makes the tag on Grambling's Travaurs  Bell for the out on Sunday at Lee Hines Field. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by John Oubre -- Southern's Harley Wiltz stretches for the throw at third base and makes the tag on Grambling's Travaurs Bell for the out on Sunday at Lee Hines Field.

“The field had a bunch of issues with it that would be a hazard for the student-athletes.” James Cooper, Grambling baseball coach

The chairman of the Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball coaches committee said Sunday that the conference tournament is being pulled from Fort Worth, Texas and is expected to land in Baton Rouge or New Orleans.

Grambling coach James Cooper said there were “safety concerns” at LaGraves Field, which he inspected last week, that can’t be resolved in time for the tournament, which begins May 14.

“The field had a bunch of issues with it that would be a hazard for the student-athletes,” Cooper said. “So the tournament is not going to be in Fort Worth.

“Right now, it looks like the SWAC tournament will either be at Southern or the Urban Youth Academy in New Orleans.”

Cooper said the safety concerns include an uneven playing surface, nails sticking out of the outfield fence and a lack of drainage in the dugouts.

Jaguars coach Roger Cador said the coaches brought up the safety issues when they were discovered during last season’s tournament at LaGraves, but the conference chose to return there anyway.

LaGraves was built in 1926 and rebuilt in 2001.

SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp was scheduled to inspect both potential sites, according to Cooper.

The SWAC Outdoor Track and Field Meet was held at Tad Gormley Stadium over the weekend.

Cador said Sharp had not visited Southern, which hosted the tournament in 2003, 2010, 2011 and 2012, which was the last tournament hosted by a SWAC school.

Cador said the Jaguars would be willing to host again if asked. Sharp and other SWAC officials have not responded to requests for comment.

Cooper said the Jaguars’ absence from the tournament makes Lee-Hines Field more attractive to the coaches since it essentially would be a neutral site, though he added that the schools from the East Division believe it would give an advantage to the West schools because they played at Southern and the schools from the East didn’t.