Mac Engel

Potential pitching opponent for TCU baseball needs to be out of CWS

Luke Heimlich, pitching against Dallas Baptist in 2015, sat out of Oregon State’s Super Regional after a report that he failed to register as a sex offender.
Luke Heimlich, pitching against Dallas Baptist in 2015, sat out of Oregon State’s Super Regional after a report that he failed to register as a sex offender. AP

With any luck, TCU will not face Oregon State at the College World Series, nor face the Beavers’ stud left-handed pitcher with a 0.76 ERA.

At this point, the next time Luke Heimlich pitches it should be in A ball for the Middle of Nowhere North Dakota Muskrats, the result of a late-round selection in the Major League Baseball draft.

Heimlich pulled one over on a flawed system and nearly got away with it.

Last week, The Oregonian reported that Heimlich, a junior starting pitcher at Oregon State who is from Washington, failed to report to his new community that he is a registered sex offender.

When he was 15, he pleaded guilty to a charge that he sexually molested a 6-year-old female family member. He admitted to multiple assaults.

After the report, he decided not to pitch in Oregon State’s sweep of Vanderbilt, but he still may in this next bracket. He better not.

While second and third chances should be a given, Oregon State should never have let this kid through the door. Now that the school is aware of Heimlich’s status, he best not appear against TCU or any other team left on the Beavers’ schedule.

And no matter how much of a deal Heimlich may be, I’d prefer if the Texas Rangers’ pass on drafting him, too.

Oregon State coach Pat Casey, one of the more respected men in his profession, reportedly was unaware of Heimlich’s status until the report surfaced.

This is one of the worst cases of negligent recruiting in the history of NCAA sports, and should be a red flag to every coach to conduct routine background checks on their recruits. Coaches — who are often the highest-paid public employees of their states — owe it to their communities to be mindful to know exactly whom they are bringing into their schools.

A coach can’t predict or be held responsible for the behavior of all of their players, but they can at least know what’s on their record.

In the 395-page 2016-17 NCAA Manual, there is no mention of a rules violation for accepting a registered sex offender. But, good news, there are six pages pertaining to room and board.

Heimlich deliberately did not report his infraction, which is the law for sex offenders, when he enrolled at Oregon State in 2014.

The only reason this news came to light is because the reporters from The Oregonian were conducting background checks on all OSU athletes and came across Heimlich’s name and crime.

Before benching himself for the Super Regional, he issued a well-written statement saying that said he did not want to be a distraction from the team. He said he went through counseling, understands that people will see him differently and that he hopes people will see him for the person he is today.

Before the home crowd at Goss Stadium in Corvalis on Friday, Heimlich received the loudest ovation of any player during pregame introductions.

It helps when you are 11-1 and the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year for the nation’s top-ranked team. He is, or was, rated as the 43rd prospect by Baseball America. Heimlich is now off several teams’ draft boards.

The advocates for Heimlich state that he went through the court system, counseling, and there is no reason to destroy a 21-year-old man’s chances at his life for a mistake he made when he was a teenager.

All valid points. At some point a person who went through the system and “did the time” must be allowed to move on and up.

But this was a 15-year-old who knew there is nothing remotely correct about that destructive behavior.

As a parent, it makes you sad, sick and scared.

There is a little girl who is now 11 and scarred from this. Exactly where does she fit into this scenario? Where is her ovation?

As is the tragic case of most sexual abuse crimes, she maneuvers in the shadows trying to make sense of a level of pain she did nothing to deserve while her parents manage the self-inflicted guilt of failing to protect her.

As a junior baseball player, Heimlich’s career at Oregon State is likely over. He will be drafted, and then join the endless line of aspiring minor league ballplayers, and the shorter but more troublesome list of athletes who received an expedited second shot because they are good at ball.

At a minimum all college programs can be more mindful of who it is they are bringing onto their teams, and have the common courtesy to let the people know if one of them is a registered sex offender.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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