By D. Mark Mitchell
This week’s column is substantially different from my usual offering. I want to share with you a disturbing story about a young man’s dream being snatched away two weeks prior to its becoming a reality.
Mitchell “Mitch” Myers graduated from OHS in May. The 2017 graduate was a star pitcher on the Bulldog baseball team. Myers grew up as a University of Alabama fan, dreaming of pitching for the Crimson Tide baseball team.
As a high school junior, Myers earned All-State honors and helped Opelika to the area championship and a quarterfinal appearance in the AHSAA 6A baseball playoffs. Alabama offered Mitch a baseball scholarship to play for the Crimson Tide. Myers committed on the spot and refused to talk to any other college that wanted to recruit him. This was one of the happiest days in his 16 years of living.
Mitch entered his senior season knowing he was a future Crimson Tider and it was time to concentrate on helping Opelika win a state baseball championship. Myers finished his senior year with 12 wins, a team low 1.20 ERA, 0.83 WHIP as a pitcher. On the other side, he was just as impressive at the plate, hitting .370 with a .444 on- base percentage.
The Dawgs advanced to the second round of the AHSAA 6A baseball playoffs, before losing two close games to eventual state champion Helena.
The right-handed pitcher drew attention from major league baseball. Scouts regularly attended games to watch Myers play. Mitch told MLB advisors that he was going to attend the University of Alabama and was not interested in professional baseball at this point in his career.
When Mitch committed to Alabama, Mitch Gaspard, who later retired, was head coach. Bama hired Gregg Goff to replace Gaspard before the 2016 school year. Coach Goff honored the scholarship offer and Mitch Myers signed the National Letter of Intent before his senior season.
Goff was fired by Alabama in May of this year, after just one season as head coach. He was replaced by Brad Bohannon on June 1.
Mitchell Myers received his letter of acceptance from UA, the financial statement showing the scholarship amount, a letter stating he passed the NCAA clearing house and a letter from University of Alabama President Stuart Bell welcoming him to the University.
Two weeks ago, Coach Bohannon called Mitch’s father, Barry. The new coach informed Mr. Myers the baseball scholarship for Mitch had been pulled because “Alabama over-signed players.”
Coach Bohannon took the scholarship away from Mitch Myers after Myers had committed to Alabama two years ago, as a junior and staying committed throughout two coaching changes. Do not forget, Mitch turned down numerous visits to other universities who were recruiting him and told the major league scouts, “No Thanks!”
Mitch was scheduled to move in his Tuscaloosa apartment next week. He and his roommates had been getting to know each other during the last few months.
How can something like this happen?
On the side of efficiency, one would think the University of Alabama would be able to keep up with its baseball scholarships and never allow this to happen to anyone. On the integrity side? Enough said.
Mitch Myers is a person, not a piece of paper you can wad up and throw away.
My heart hurts for Mitchell Myers. He worked his entire life to achieve greatness and earn a baseball scholarship at the University of Alabama, the college team Myers grew up idolizing.
Myers and his family will have to regroup and look at other options. Several schools across the south have reached out wanting to talk with Mitch. The problem is , It is July and most university’s start fall classes soon.
I pray Mitch Myers will be able to find happiness at another school. He deserves better than the way the almighty UA treated him. What message does this send to others who have Crimson Tide scholarship offers?
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.