Val Miklausich never thought his Columbia baseball career would end so soon.
As an infielder who started 30 games last year, Miklausich was looking forward to a new season and a chance to improve from last year. Instead, he and a number of other players found themselves off the roster after fall practices, cut by new head coach Brett Boretti. It was a move that Miklausich strongly disagreed with.
"I thought it was bullshit," he said. "I thought it was undeserved."
Boretti, however, felt that the cuts were necessary for the team.
"Coming into a program, I feel that you can carry too many guys on a team where it's not advantageous for the team as a whole," Boretti said. "To make some of those cuts in the fall, it's based on going with where I feel we have enough players, where we don't have enough players, and moving on."
Still, there are differing opinions as to the reasons for the cuts. Miklausich himself believes that the cuts were forced by over-budgeting, as Boretti reportedly brought in more recruits then he had roster spots available.
"He [Boretti] brought in way too many freshmen," Miklausich said. "I heard that there was a cap on the team, so he had to make cuts to make that cap."
Boretti flatly denies that there were budgeting problems.
"That's incorrect. That's wrong," he said. "We're in good standing with the budget. That's ridiculous."
The majority of the players released were either injured during the 2005 season or were walk-ons to the team. But Miklausich seemed like a particularly unusual cut. A high school star in his home state of Florida, he was first team all-county and second team all-state, hitting .267 his freshman year in 26 games while playing solid defense. Although his average slipped his sophomore year down to .230, Miklausich still drew the second-most walks on the team and was sixth in total bases. But that was apparently not enough to ensure him a spot on this year's squad.
"The new coach [Boretti] came in, said that he had no opinions [on the players], no favorites," Miklausich said. "But he just made it seem like I didn't really belong on the team."
"I just don't see how I fit the profile of someone who got cut," he added.
Boretti, however, says that the cuts are not a matter of personal preference.
"It's got to do with the level of play and with my decision," he said. "It's never an easy thing to do, no question about it. But I feel that for us to go in the direction we want to go in, we need to find a core group to build upon, to be able to build that good base that we're working from."
Miklausich, for his part, insists that he holds nothing personal against Boretti or the baseball program.
"I don't want to seem like I'm talking down the coach," Miklausich said. "I love my teammates, I love the program. He [Boretti] is starting a new program-there's nothing I can do about that. I just disagree with what he had to say and his actions."
For now, Boretti simply wants to put the unpleasant events of the offseason behind him and focus on the upcoming season.
"I'm here to try and build a successful program," Boretti said. "And to be quite frank, at some points, the coach has to put to the side what some players may feel and think for what I feel is best for the team. Those moves I stand firmly behind, and I had to make them. We'll move forward from it."
Miklausich himself was somewhat reluctant to discuss the cuts, but did say that the matter is now in the past.
"What's done is done, there's nothing I can really do about it," he said. "But I just felt like I was wronged."