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Tom Coyne | The Associated Press | May 29, 2014

Connaughton tells MLB teams he plans on returning to Irish hoops

Pat Connaughton Pat Connaughton
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame pitcher Pat Connaughton is telling major league teams interested in drafting him that he plans to return to campus to play basketball and earn his business degree.

A 6-foot-5 swingman who was third on the basketball team in scoring last season at 13.8 points a game, Connaughton said the ideal scenario for him would be to be drafted high, play baseball in the minors in June and July, and then return to Notre Dame in early August to get ready for an exhibition tour to Italy.

''I think teams are intrigued to what happens when I start playing basketball full time,'' said Connaughton, who was 3-5 with a 3.92 earned run average in 10 starts this season.

Connaughton said if a team drafts him early in the first round and offers him a lot of money not to return to Notre Dame, ''I'm going to have to think about that then. But I think I'm pretty set on coming back to school and playing basketball and finishing my degree.''

A senior from Arlington, Massachusetts, Connaughton said his goal has always been to play two sports as long as he can. He said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Irish wide receiver Jeff Samardzija, who returned to play football his senior season in 2006 after being drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round. Samardzija has the second-lowest ERA in the National League at 1.68.

''With the fabulous season Jeff's having this season that only helps my cause,'' Connaughton said. ''It helps show teams it can work that way and it doesn't hurt too much.''

Connaughton, who throws a 90 mph fastball, said 10 to 15 teams have indicated they wouldn't want draft him if he insists on playing college basketball, but said others, particularly the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels, are open to the idea.

Coming off a disappointing 15-17 season, the first losing season for the Irish since the 1998-99, Connaughton said he's looking forward to helping turn things around.

''Fortunately I've been able to work myself into a position to have a big impact on this team. That's something I take pride in and something I want to stick around and help this team win,'' he said.

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