Oversigning.com
27Feb/11100

Quick Thoughts on Medical Hardship Scholarships

Nick Saban's abuse of the medical hardship scholarship, which has been documented by the WSJ in a piece called Alabama's Unhappy Castoffs, has caused a lot of controversy.  The number of players placed on medical hardships in addition with comments such as these from a former player tends to raise a collective eye brow and point it in Nick Saban and Alabama's direction.   

"It's a business," Mr. Kirschman said. "College football is all about politics. And this is a loophole in the system."

"I wasn't playing significant minutes, but I was personally upset because I did anything coach asked, I was a team player, I had a 4.0 average," said Mr. Kirschman, who played in two career games, both in 2008, and is now working full time as a robot programmer at Mercedes.

Mr. Kirschman said the school offered in the summer of 2009 to pay for his graduate degree in business—an offer he accepted—and that he still gets some of the same perks as players. "I still get game tickets, which is nice," he says.

Mr. Kirschman said the decision to take the medical scholarship was ultimately his, and that he decided to do it to open up a scholarship for the good of the team. But he said he felt he was pressured. "It was pushed," he said. "It was instigated for several players."

Others who took these scholarships say they believe the school is violating the spirit of the rule. Mr. Kirschman, the linebacker, said he injured his back in April 2008 but continued practicing with the team through the spring of 2009. That May, he was approached by coaches and trainers and asked to take a medical scholarship.

How can anyone read those comments and not think that there is something wrong with the current system for determining a medical disqualification?  If a student-athlete is injured enough to warrant a disqualification why should there ever be the need to get them to agree to it?  Furthermore, why should they be asked to take a medical hardship by coaches and trainers?  Shouldn't a doctor be the one to make the final determination and disqualify the student-athlete?  Instead, we have a WSJ report where a student-athlete says he felt pressured into the disqualification and that others who took these scholarships, but wouldn't go on record with their names, believed the school was violating the spirit of the rule.  Forget that it's Alabama -- this could be any school in the country and it would still be a serious problem.  This is a problem of college football becoming more and more like the NFL than it is about one particular school abusing the rules.

The NCAA by-laws state that the player must be unable to PARTICIPATE ever again; it says nothing about being able to compete at a certain performance level.  How do you define participation?  Guys that are walk-ons that never see the field participate, guys that are on a medical redshirt, which is different than a medical hardship in that medical redshirt players are only sitting out for a year and plan to return, are able to participate.  So how was Mr. Kirschman, who was PRACTICING with the team unable to participate according to the NCAA by-laws below?

15.5.1.3 Counter Who Becomes Injured or Ill.  A counter who becomes injured or ill to the point that he or she apparently never again will be able to participate in intercollegiate athletics shall not be considered a counter beginning with the academic year following the incapacitating injury or illness.

15.5.1.3.1 Incapacitating Injury or Illness. If an incapacitating injury or illness occurs prior to a prospective student-athlete’s or a student-athlete’s participation in athletically related activities and
results in the student-athlete’s inability to compete ever again, the student-athlete shall not be counted within the institution’s maximum financial aid award limitations for the current, as well as later academic years.

We believe he was able to participate but was pushed into a medical hardship in order to free up scholarship space, which in our opinion is unethical, skirts the NCAA by-laws for medical disqualification, and looks very much like something that would happen on an NFL team, not in college athletics.

In a recent article regarding how Nick Saban runs the Alabama football program, Greg McElroy is quoted as saying that the program is run like a professional organization.  The type of professional organization that he is referring to is most certainly an NFL franchise.

"At Alabama we're all professionals except we're not being paid," McElroy said. "The fact remains we live in a professional organization. Coach (Nick) Saban runs a professional organization. He expects you to be punctual in the way you arrive in meetings. He expects you to come and not wear a hat to meetings. He expects your hair to be a certain length. There's rules and regulations within the organization that are run like a professional franchise."

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/02/nfl_scouting_combine_greg_mcel_1.html

In the NFL teams are limited to 53 players, but they are also allowed to utilize an injured reserve roster.  In order to free up a spot on the 53 man roster, NFL teams are allowed to move injured players to the reserve roster and replace the player with someone from free-agency or from the draft.  The player on IR is not allowed to practice or play with the team until the end of the season, at which time the coaching staff can reevaluate the roster and the health of the players on IR and make roster changes as needed.  College football doesn't have free-agency (yet) and it is generally accepted that when a student-athlete commits to a school the intention is to be there for 4 years and get an education while playing football.  In addition, there are transfer rules in place that require a student-athlete to sit out a year after transferring, so it is really difficult on a player to change schools in the middle of his career -- this is completely unlike the NFL.

What we think we are seeing with the abuse of the medical hardship scholarship and the large number of players that are being pushed into it is that some coaches who run their college football programs like a professional NFL team are using the medical hardship scholarship as an injured reserve loophole. 

This raises a lot of questions.  Let's take Alabama and Nick Saban's name off of this and just talk about the issue -- this is not a hit piece on Alabama or Nick Saban and this topic can be discussed without focusing in on the particulars of the Alabama case in the WSJ.  Here are some general questions for discussion.

1. How do we reform the Medical Hardship Scholarship process and ensure that kids are not being pushed into taking one because a coach is oversigned and needs to make space in the roster?

2. If a student-athlete is given an inducement to take a medical hardship scholarship, such as season tickets in Mr. Kirschman's case, is it a violation of either the written NCAA by-laws or the spirit of the by-laws?  You can't give a kid season tickets to commit to come to a school on a football scholarship, why should you be able to give him season tickets to leave, or any inducement for that matter?

3. How do you feel about coaches trying to make college football more like the NFL?

4. At what point does college football become so much like the NFL that players have to start being paid?  It appears in some places they are already dealing with annual roster cuts, being placed on an IR list, and essentially drafted and placed in farm systems...all we need is a player's union, free agency, and to have the players quit going to classes and we'll have a mini NFL.   

We ask these questions because we see the direction all of this is heading with the oversigning, roster cuts, medical hardships, pay-for-play, etc., and if you love college football like we do all of this is headed in the wrong direction.

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  1. good write up. Makes alot of sense when you think of it that way.

  2. Wow. I’ve got several points to make, and I’ll try not to ramble.

    1.

    Nick Saban’s abuse of the medical hardship scholarship, which has been documented by the WSJ in a piece called Alabama’s Unhappy Castoffs, has caused a lot of controversy

    Let’s talk about the WSJ piece. I’m no journalist, but I do understand the very basic concept of corroboration, and the WSJ article offers none. The entire article consists of a few selected comments from former players only one of whom was any way critical of Alabama. If the WSJ is trying to prove abuse as opposed to just writing a hit piece, where are the details in this story? For example, what is the exact nature of Mr. Kirschman’s injury? How severe was it? Did it require surgery? How many doctors examined Mr. Kirschman? Was it ever re-aggravated? How much pain was he is? Was he on pain medication as a result of trying to practice through the injury? What were the long term risks of his continuing to participate with his injury? Did the WSJ ask any of these questions, if not, why? Did the WSJ have him examined by a physician of their choosing? If not, why? Was the WSJ really interested in the circumstances surrounding Mr. Kirschman and his injury or did they just want a couple of comments that could be used to cast Alabama in a bad light?

    2. I know what Josh and others will say – the answers to those questions don’t matter because Mr. Kirschman felt he could play. Oh really, then why even have doctors?

    If a student-athlete is injured enough to warrant a disqualification why should there ever be the need to get them to agree to it?

    Consider the case of former Alabama player Ezekial Knight. He had surgery to repair a heart murmur after the 2006 season but played the 2007 season. Soon after the 2007 season he had a stroke caused by a blood clot. He was evaluated by numerous physicians including those at the Mayo Clinic, and on the recommendations made by those doctors, Alabama made the determination to not clear him to play over concern for his health. Knight however felt that the chance of playing pro ball someday out-weighed the potential risk to his health so he transferred to Stilman College where he played his final year without incident. Does that mean that Alabama was wrong to take the recommendation of numerous doctors over the opinion of a player? Sometimes a player’s desire to compete blinds him from the potential risks to his own health. That’s why these determinations are made by medical staffs and not the players.

    3.

    In a recent article regarding how Nick Saban runs the Alabama football program, Greg McElroy is quoted as saying that the program is run like a professional organization. The type of professional organization that he is referring to is most certainly an NFL franchise.

    McElroy made those comments at the NFL combine. It was effectively a job interview. What do people try to do in a job interview? They try to demonstrate to prospective employers that they have all the requisite skills and experience that are required to be successful if hired. That is clearly what McElroy was doing. Here is another quote from that same session:

    “Coach Saban and Alabama has prepared all of us,” McElroy said. “It’s something I never could have anticipated. We didn’t realize the headsup we had until we got to our training sessions and the Senior Bowl.”

    Yet somehow you attempted to twist what was meant as praise for Alabama and Nick Saban into a critique of college football in general and the Alabama program in particular. If anyone buys that, I’ll be absolutely shocked.

  3. Is a standard of total non-participation appropriate in an age when most long-term studies indicate that brain trauma and orthopedic stress can be catastrophic? Today’s college players are the same size and speed, or perhaps even larger and faster, than yesterday’s NFL players. Take a look at those players – shortened life spans, chronic ailments, and all sort of other issues. What will today’s college players look like in 30 years?

    I strongly oppose conflating this issue with oversigning. No, I am not suggesting that Alabama’s doing the right thing here — that’s another argument for another day. But any pressure on the coaches, players or medical staff to keep a kid on the field when he’s “functional” but not “optimal” is a huge step in the wrong direction.

    • Your response is all over the place…but I will clarify one issue for you. Your statement about conflating the issues.

      The issue is that it is unethical for a school to oversign and then use the medical scholarship to trim its roster. I wouldn’t consider that conflating the issue. Abusing the medical scholarship policy allows a school to oversign…

      • All over the place? How, exactly? Josh asked for a larger discussion about medical hardships. If that’s not what he meant, then he would not have said, “Let’s take Alabama and Nick Saban’s name off of this and just talk about the issue.”

        I continually will point out the even the best intentions have unintended consequences. Most medical stories in football concern a culture which pressures kids to play hurt. That’s a fact. And it’s directly relevant to this issue.

      • That may well be “the issue”. But why is up to Joshua, or you, or any of us to make that determination. This has been dealt with scores of times on this website, and it has been underscored time after time that the doctors that perform these assessments, and who also ultimately sign these forms, are not employees of the University of Alabama. They are not “incentivized” to pump up the medical schollie numbers. It is so totally preposterous even to INTIMATE that is the case, that it is hardly even worth mentioning. These doctors are completely independent and have no reason whatsoever to mis-diagnose, or to portray an injury as being more sever than it actually is. And I don’t care if the numbers are higher at one school than another. If a kid is hurt, and a doctor says he shouldn’t play any more, then that is good enough for me.

        What are you guys going to say next? I can’t wait to see what devil is behind the next door. Pretty soon we’ll be able to blame Nick Saban for the economy and global warming. Get off the medical schollie thing until you can make a legitimate case that goes beyond “this doesn’t look right to me”.

        • “And I don’t care if the numbers are higher at one school than another. If a kid is hurt, and a doctor says he shouldn’t play any more, then that is good enough for me.”

          Blind follower…I’m glad you have pointed out those objective standards of “not being able to participate”…You show me those and you might be able to contribute something meaningful….

          • Mario, Josh actually called for a debate about medical hardships. If you want to reduce this yet another thread of name-calling and “you’re wrong, and you’re just too stupid to see it,” then go right ahead. It won’t get the kids any closer to any meaningful changes in the NCAA by-laws that provide them more protection than they have now.

            You want to protect kids who can still play from coaches who cut them because they don’t think the kids can play well enough — a situation which, near as I can tell, MIGHT be happening at ONE university.

            I want to protect them from a football culture which pushes them to play through injury, attacks a QB who took 9 sacks in a single game for getting a knee injury, and causes the family of former safety to donate his brain to science – a culture which has been documented 1000x over the past 20 years that I have been paying attention.

            So are we going to have a debate, or are you just going to take your ball and go home? If you’re working on a dissertation, then a civil debate should be a walk in park.

            • Just to clarify, I never implied that players that should be medically disqualified be forced to continue, that’s absurd. If I did imply that please point it out to me and I will redact accordingly.

              I think both sides of the issue are very important, but relative to the oversigning issue, which is what this site is focused on, I think we need to make sure that kids are not being pushed into accepting a medical hardship simply because a coach engaged in unethical behavior by oversigning his roster in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage.

              • I never suggested that you suggested it. But can we admit that football as a culture – high school, college, and pro — has been criticized from numerous directions for a “macho” culture that minimizes player risks?

                I agree — the risk of a coach using medical hardships for roster manipulation deserves a look.

                Maybe we can start here:
                1 – Are the medical personnel independent of the university?
                2 – What level of medical professional must certify a medical hardship? Trainer? Doctor?
                3 – What standard do they use? Their own? An NCAA recommendation?
                4 – How do you prevent a university from shopping that service? What are the appeal rights for a kid who thinks the university has a misdiagnosis?
                5 – Who pays for the second and third opinion? (should be the university, but perhaps through an NCAA escrow to avoid conflict of interest?)

              • What a ridiculously worded response. You actually have the chutzpah to:

                A) Provide as “evidence” an incredibly poorly-written and horrifically-researched article that came out in the weekend (i.e. barely read) edition of the WSJ, and simultaneously

                B) State as though it is am immutable FACT that Nick Saban is abusing the practice. If this were true, wouldn’t you really have to have a case against the doctors who said they couldn’t play, since it’s not Saban declaring them incapable of playing?

                Why don’t you do a hit piece on the doctors too, since you are saying they are also complicit in this grand scheme?

            • It is a walk in the park and if you can read, you will see that I also never implied that a player should be forced to play or participate when injured. As a former player who knows more about this game than you ever will, I would never do such a thing. Stupid??? I don’t think I ever called you stupid….I’m sure I can outscore you on any exam.

              Anyway….the point is and always has been that coaches shouldn’t use the medical scholarship as a way to purge their roster to accommodate for an oversigned class. The original article clearly stated that the player felt like he was being forced to sign off on the medical scholarship.

              So much for civility…

              • so much for civility, and yet you blindly claim you can outscore him in any exam. You might say the same to me, not knowing anything about me. Would that be civil to?

                • Would that be civil to?

                  Saaaaad. Do you know the difference between to, too, and two?

                  • Enough with the grammar police, and that’s from a guy with two masters, one in English. It’s a blog. Fingers slip. Who has time to proof everything?

                    I routinely leave words out of posts, because I’m a self-taught typist – brain moves faster than my fingers.

              • It isn’t the first kid to feel that way, I’m sure… but it none the less doesn’t make it an abuse or an incorrect call. Many kids feel they can do more than they can/should… I don’t think a players feelings on the issue are really that important. If a qualified Doctor is saying he shouldn’t play any more, that is the advice I would follow.

                Now, if you want to have an NCAA review of each case, so be it… but I doubt you’ll find the NCAA wants any part in overriding a Doctor’s opinion as the liability would be more than they want to take on…. Just my opinion.

              • Mario,

                I never suggested that you or Joshua want players to play hurt. Rereading my posts, I still don’t quite know how both of you got there. But to the extent you feel that I insinuated it, I apologize.

                I have close friends who played college baseball and football. A couple of them had shots at the minor leagues and CFL, respectively. All of them tell me that the pressure to stay on the field in both sports was intense even in college, but that it worse in football. They put more pressure on themselves than any teammate or coach ever did, because everyone around them did. Think about it — Iowa’s off-season workouts. Jay Cutler’s knee injury. Duerson’s suicide and brain donation. That’s 3 major stories about that football culture in a month.

                Should a discussion about medical hardships take that into account? Absolutely. If a coach essentially kicks a kid off a team through rigging his medical evaluation, then let me be clear — the coach should be fired and the medical professional should have his or her license revoked.

                But the system (and critics) should also recognize that these institutions have do a better job being medically proactive with these kids. As a result, I am not comfortable using a strict interpretation of “total non-participation” as a standard for medical hardships.

                Hank Gathers could still participate. He’s dead.

                I don’t think it would be hard for the NCAA to create a common standard for interpretation of medical data as a recommendation. I don’t think it would be hard for a school or conference to create a blind pool of medical experts and draw two names from a hat for each case. That means a coach does not know which two doctors will be rendering separate opinions, and it dramatically lowers the chance that a rogue doctor might be conspiring with a program to rig results. But the ultimate responsibility and legal liability remains with the school, which is where the NCAA wants it.

                But given those protections, I would want to see more medical hardships, not less.

                As for the rest of it… “Blind follower” to me means stupid. I don’t know what it means to you, but to me that’s an insult. Could you outscore me on an exam? Depends on the exam, doesn’t it? Exams show expertise in a particular field. So, a blanket statement that you would outscore me on any exam again strongly infers that you either think I am stupid or consider yourself a genius. Or both.

                I don’t dislike you, Mario, in spite of the fact that you keep insulting me. The “in the middle” part of my name references the fact that debates like always spin into two polar opposite camps – all or none, either/or, good/evil, right/wrong shouting matches. I tend to believe that both sides of any argument have merit and that the best solutions tend to found “in the middle.” Disagree if you like.

  4. The guy running this site doesn’t have a clue on any of this crap he is posting.

  5. 1. How do we reform the Medical Hardship Scholarship process and ensure that kids are not being pushed into taking one because a coach is oversigned and needs to make space in the roster?

    I propose the following:

    Establish a NCAA medical scholarship review panel which functions via a quite simple process.

    Once a school makes a doctor-directed decision to place an athlete on a medical scholarship they must submit their findings to the NCAA for review by an NCAA selected panel of doctors.

    The doctors simply rule on whether the original determination is reasonably merited. If they agree – the player’s medical scholarship proceeds and the school is allotted a new scholarship slot.

    If they disagree and feel the player is still fit to play, the medical scholarship can still proceed, but counts against the school’s 85-scholarship limit – or – the athlete can opt to retain his football scholarship if he agrees to hold the NCAA and school blameless for any future injury.

    Regarding your discussion about what constitutes “participation”, my thoughts are as follows:

    Establish a NCAA-wide standard uniform policy of minimum requirements for participation.

    This is actually a very simple construct. Once on scholarship a student athlete keeps it for four years by adhering to at least the minimum level of the uniform minimum participation requirements established by a committee of NCAA football coaches. The policy is the same at every school.

    The coaches’ committee establishes the minimum percentage level of participation needed to be a properly prepared football player across such activities as conditioning, film study, weightlifting, and practice. This ensures that a player can’t just get on scholarship, and then “dog it” for four years. But there are no performance-based standards.

    As it does now, the NCAA continues to establish what is permissible for coaches to demand of athletes in terms of time commitments.

    The advantage of the uniform minimum participation requirements is that it allows the athlete to clearly know if his scholarship is ever facing the threat of being revoked. Should a coach decide that a player has not met the clearly established obligations he can file a “petition to revoke” with the NCAA, and the NCAA can, in consultation with the school’s compliance department, rule on the merits of the coach’s petition. An appeal is allowed, then the NCAA ruling is final.

    The participation numbers are clear to see. Coaches must eat their recruiting evaluation mistakes equally. Players keep their scholarships. And the playing field is leveled for all schools.

    A critic might suggest that a player could potentially still handle some level of conditioning, weightlifting and practice, but not really be able to play football (which is a stretch). So I’d suggest adding an extra layer of evaluative material for both coaches and players, following the example of the NFL combines: all players establish a freshman year baseline in a series of football-related drills against which any future variance could easily be measured to support a case made by either a player or coach.

    • Outstanding stuff…it’s refreshing to have someone respond with something other than a weak attempt to justify unethical behavior or to try and poke holes in the journalistic integrity of the Wall Street Journal. As always, thanks for responding!

      • I learned everything I know about questioning integrity from you, Josh.

      • Yes, if someone successfully poked a hole in the journalistic integrity of a newspaper reporter, it would be the first time ever. These writers are beyond reproach and it is foolhardy to even attempt to discount their stellar work.

      • Josh… we’ve been responding for months and months with ideas.

        There is no “weak” attempt to justify unethical behavior… I don’t think any person that I have seen post has said any player should be lied to or forced off the team against his will… I have not seen on poster suggest that any team should break any rules…

        What I have seen is people trying to put forward ideas that would benifit the players and the schools more so than the “Big 10 rule” does and the other side try to call names and belittle those post…

        But hey, maybe that’s just me…

    • Washington is full of committees that were supposed to solve problems. I think your ideas are laudable, but I personally am not a fan of bureaucracy. As for the NCAA, medical oversight committees run a real risk of transferring legal liability to the NCAA as a whole. As it stands now, such liability remains compartmentalized with the individual schools, and lawyers tend to prefer risk compartmentalization rather than centralization. So there are huge hurdles there. Not insurmountable ones. Just significant.

      I think a broad working agreement among schools on standards would be an excellent start – but I think that such an agreement should work with the ridiculous number of medical research facilities attached to NCAA members to create as humane a standard as possible, with the long-term health interests of the student (versus short-term competitive desires of the student and/or institution) paramount.

      Remember: Hank Gathers thought he could play, and he knew the risks. It’s just difficult for kids to walk away from a game they love or have someone tell them to walk away. That responsibility does to an extent have to start with the university.

      • We had the same issue with Zeke Knight, slightly similar to Gathers.. Heart issues, collapses in practice more than once, but the kid was going to force his way to play. He eventually transferred (Josh has tried to spin this a different way before) and played at a lower division, because the Bama medical staff would not sign off on his being able to play

    • Establish a NCAA medical scholarship review panel which functions via a quite simple process.

      Once a school makes a doctor-directed decision to place an athlete on a medical scholarship they must submit their findings to the NCAA for review by an NCAA selected panel of doctors.

      This is something I’ve been saying for awhile… problem is that the NCAA will not take on that liabity to “overrule” a doctor. Let’s say you have the 1st doctor saying he can’t play… but the panel says he can… he goes out there and get’s a major injury… The NCAA will be taking on some serious law suits which I don’t think they want to open themselves up to.

      I like the idea and would love to see it… but I don’t think the NCAA will go that route.

  6. I am a bit confused from the NYJ article on the real details of Kirschman. Did he enroll in the Spring or Fall of 2006? He didn’t see any action in 2006 or 2007 according to the article, so he was probably a redshirt junior for the 2009 season.

    He gets hurt during spring ball in 2008, rehabs, and continues or rejoins the team practices. He must have been cleared to participate by the doctors. He played in two games in 2008. Did he get injured again during the season? Article is unclear. If no further injury occurred, no medical hardship should have happened.

    Spring of 2009 he is induced to accept a medical hardship with the promise to pay for grad school. I didn’t know that the medical hardship was allowed for grad school, but would not be surprised if it were. If he enrolled in the spring of 2006 he would have eligibility through spring 2010 with the redshirt and, being the good student he was, could have been ready for grad school in three years (2009).

    How can the doctors that cleared the kid to play after the injury change their minds and claim he could no longer play?

    • Kirschman couldnt stay healthy. It was disappointing. I will admit, most fans only thought he was offered because he was a teammate of Tim Tebow, and some thought was it might sway him. And before you call dirty on Saban, it wasnt Saban that recruited and signed him, it was Shula.

      • That’s the thing that makes evaluating medical hardships so difficult from a distance. If the kid got hurt, and was able to come back, practice and play in 2008, go through winter workouts, all with the approval of the medical staff, how does he then become unable to continue. Did he get hurt during spring ball in 2009? Devoid of facts, it’s impossible to really judge.

        Shame the kid couldn’t be part of a BCS champion team. That’s something the kid will regret for life.

        The offering of a kid who is a teammate of the one you really want is a common practice. Nothing wrong with it, provided the kid stay on scholarship. Bringing him in for a year or so just to get the one you want, then cutting him loose should draw screams from alumni and all that follow college football. I’m not suggesting that happened here in any way, shape or form. Bama didn’t even get the one they wanted in this case, and, given Saban’s offense, not sure they would have wanted Tebow unless he was to become a tight end.

        • Some issues can be degenerative. I broke my leg, and while that injury has healed, the bone has grown back in ways that limit the mobility of my knee. Also, one leg is now slightly shorter than the other – who knew half a centimeter makes that much difference? I’ve tried various solutions, but it subtly changed my gait, which affected my musculature…. I could still play tennis as a 4.5, but two matches in a day left me with excruciating hip and back pain.

          I am not saying these specific things happened here, just that any injury creates a series of dominoes that are difficult to predict. Some of those are only revealed over time and through competition. As you said – who knows in this particular case?

          I think the WSJ article has become a roschach test for both sides of this debate. Saban detractors note the disparity in numbers and hear “forced” when the 2 players say “pushed.” Saban supporters note that the WSJ presents no independent medical data at all to contradict the original doctors and hear “encouraged” when the players say “pushed.”

    • From my understanding a scholarship is good for the length of eligibility. When a player redshirts they get 5 years payed for if they stay the course. With summer school many players graduate with thier undergrad early and still have enough time left to hvae grad school paid for. So again a spin to say if you take a medical hardship we will pay for grad school vs. you still have so many years left to also finish out your graduate degree. The fact is even on a medical a school has to pay for every year they have eligibility left. The NCAA would jump in pretty quick if promises were made that involved extra benefits.

      Again one of the issues I have with this site when assumptions are made that have little merit. A player on a medical is just like a regular player. Same benefits like tickets to a game. Unless some fail to realize that players receive free tickets.

      • I don’t quite get your anger accusing someone of spin. It wasn’t a direct quote, but the article claimed the kid stated that Bama offered to pay for grad school. I don’t see anywhere in either article where the next step was taken to accuse the school of some violation in this regard, and I qualified my question hoping to avoid being accused of spin when just asking a point of clarification.

        Thanks for clarifying anyway.

  7. I fail to see why this is a bad thing for the player? Obviously if a player is asked to take a medical hardship to clear room by Saban the player is a scrub, so he’s not going to be playing anyway, right?. So the scrub player has 2 options…

    a) Stay on the team, never get to play, basically just get used as a tackling dummy in practice getting the crap kicked out of you day after day, and get a free education.

    b) Take a Medical Hardship, get a easy pain free education.

    Seems to me Saban is doing them a favor, i’d sure as hell take option B.

    Now i see how this might hurt because Saban is getting to sign more recruits every year, but i really don’t see how “forcing them” to take a Medical Harship is doing the *player* any actual harm.

  8. I love this. you put this comment in..

    “Let’s take Alabama and Nick Saban’s name off of this and just talk about the issue — this is not a hit piece on Alabama or Nick Saban and this topic can be discussed without focusing in on the particulars of the Alabama case in the WSJ.”

    and yet, you start the article with
    “Nick Saban’s abuse of the medical hardship scholarship, which has been documented by the WSJ”

    and a quote by 2 players.

  9. Been away for the weekend — had a really nice time at a conference at Duke.

    I am not interested in debating one article from the WSJ — as many of the defenders have mentioned — the quality of its reporting and editorials have really declined in the past few years since Murdoch bought it.

    However, the notion that medical opinions are “independent” and “context free” needs to be challenged. Those who advance this idea have never been involved in a legal case over health issues or if you have, I am sorry that you missed the boat.

    Diagnoses offered by employer’s doctors favor the employers and the plaintiff provides his or her own diagnosis which, quite magically, supports the plaintiff. Tell the NFL players that the NFL Team Doctors are “independent” and “context-free” arbiters of what is the “truth.” Why would you believe that Alabama is different? And it is not the reputation of the doctors. Again, every NFL team is tied to the best medical professionals in the US. This is a silly argument.

    Simply say that the WSJ is a rag responding to the whims of the Master Puppeteer (a good next article would be “Why does Murdoch hate Alabama”?) and you don’t see enough evidence (and let’s face it, you most likely never will).

    • But my question and I am not disagreeing, is why should UA be the only one pointed out. Could we not question every medical at every school. Just because UA has oversigned does not mean anything malicious has transpired.

      I agree something needs to be put in place to address medical hardships that favors the player but for every school.

  10. Good points, Rich. How about something along these lines?

    1 – Create a common standard for interpretation of medical data as a recommendation. As a recommendation only, it insulates the NCAA from legal liability.
    2 – Have each conference create a blind pool of regional medical experts and draw two names from a hat for each case. That means a coach does not know which two doctors will be rendering separate opinions, and it dramatically lowers the chance that a single rogue doctor or facility might be conspiring with a program to rig results.

    The ultimate responsibility and legal liability remains with the school, which is where the NCAA wants it. The doctors have clear guidelines to inform their decision, but the decision remains their own. The school and player get access to quality medical opinions. The system makes it difficult to rig results, because the school’s don’t know who will be reviewing each case. The doctor’s are not attached to the school in question and have their own careers that outweigh any business that might come their way through a particular school.

  11. How can anyone read those comments and not think that there is something wrong with the current system for determining a medical disqualification?

    Easy statement to make when you only put forward what you want to be read. The quotes you show are from 1 player out of 12… and then you fail to post quotes from other players in the article..

    In some cases, the players who took these scholarships say they didn’t feel pressured. Charles Hoke, a former Alabama offensive lineman who took a medical scholarship in 2008 because of a shoulder problem, said the choice was left entirely up to him and was based on the many conversations he had with the team’s doctors and trainers over the course of his junior year.

    In August 2009, Jeramie Griffin, a redshirt sophomore running back at Alabama, tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during a practice—an injury that kept him out for that season. After undergoing surgery, he said, “I came back in the spring and I was OK.”… Mr. Griffin said that he was surprised last month when the football staff told him he had failed a physical. At that point, Mr. Griffin said, Mr. Saban sat him down and asked him what he wanted to do besides playing football. He said that Mr. Saban floated the possibility of a medical scholarship and asked if Mr. Griffin was interested in student coaching.
    Mr. Griffin said he doesn’t contest the results of the physical and said it was “basically my decision” to forgo the rest of his playing career.

    Now… let’s look at some of the other 12 medicals taken at Bama…
    Taken from a Crimson webblog…

    That is inaccurate on the disqualifications only involving non-star players. This is just off the top of my head but here is some clarification:

    The very first medical disqualification under Coach Saban, as I recall, was Tyrone Prothro. The kid simply couldn’t walk anymore, much less run and play football at the D-1 level. Prothro was an absolute stud until his injury.

    B.J. Stabler was a starter his freshman and sophomore years but suffered a knee injury that he could not recover from and had to go on medical disqualification.

    Jeramie Griffin is a prime example of a kid that Alabama fans and coaches did not want to lose. Prior to his ACL tear a year ago, Griffin was running with Trent Richardson in the competition to back-up Mark Ingram. Griffin was a beast in his limited action for Alabama. Again, but for the injury, Griffin would be third on the depth chart at worst going into 2010 and would have got significant carries.

    Terry Grant had two straight seasons lost due to sports hernia surgeries. Grant set a number of freshman records at running back for Alabama but never regained his form due to the chronic issues with sports hernias.

    Charles Hoke was a very solid blocking tight end with good hands who saw action in 24 games going into his senior season. Hoke, however, had a recurring shoulder injury that dated back to high school. In practice the week before the A-Day game of his senior season, the shoulder popped out of place again — doctors advised that continuing to play could cause quality of life issues. Hoke is a local kid here from Birmingham and it is my understanding that he used his senior year to begin the MBA program at Alabama.

    Zeke Knight received a medical disqualification due to a heart ailment discovered by Alabama’s doctors. At the time the condition was discovered, Zeke was going into his senior season as a returning starter at LB and figured to play a prominent role in Alabama’s defense in Saban’s first year. He was, at the time, our best returning LB. Zeke left Alabama and tried to get medical clearance at several D-1 schools but could not. He ultimately received clearance from a D-2 school, Texas Southern. Zeke went undrafted and was not invited to the NFL Combine due in very large part to his heart condition.

    These are not kids that are “run off” to make room. These are kids that where contributing are were expected to contribute.
    Now, on to your other points:

    1. How do we reform the Medical Hardship Scholarship process and ensure that kids are not being pushed into taking one because a coach is oversigned and needs to make space in the roster?

    I would love to see an NCAA review of these scholarships. I don’t think the NCAA would over-rule any of the doctors, but if there was a least a review maybe it would make any obvious abuse stop. To be honest, I’d rather err on the side of the doctors…

    2. If a student-athlete is given an inducement to take a medical hardship scholarship, such as season tickets in Mr. Kirschman’s case, is it a violation of either the written NCAA by-laws or the spirit of the by-laws? You can’t give a kid season tickets to commit to come to a school on a football scholarship, why should you be able to give him season tickets to leave, or any inducement for that matter?

    I think that is fair, but the problem comes up when most schools do give season tickets to football Alumni… If a kid stop his football career; wouldn’t he be entitled to getting that perk? I would think if you stop it for medicals, you’d need to stop it for everyone. I’ll have to think on that as I don’t know all the ins and outs… but I would agree, you should encourage a medical by giving perks that are not given to other players too… my thoughts right now is that other players are given those same perks when they leave the program after fulfilling their entire obligations…

    3. How do you feel about coaches trying to make college football more like the NFL?

    I think preparing a kid for the NFL is good. Running your team in practice and on and off the field as an NFL team is a good thing. There are some kids that really need/look for that… some that don’t. I think it’s a good recruiting tactic to say to a kid you’re prepping him for the NFL… now some kids may like a more “fun” atmosphere and less “business” like… so I would expect there are other schools out there that don’t run their program like an NFL team… Kinda like running a spread offense verse a pro offense…. To each their own.

    4. At what point does college football become so much like the NFL that players have to start being paid? It appears in some places they are already dealing with annual roster cuts, being placed on an IR list, and essentially drafted and placed in farm systems…all we need is a player’s union, free agency, and to have the players quit going to classes and we’ll have a mini NFL.

    It’s an interesting topic… should they be paid? Yes, they should… but no they won’t. The NCAA wants to make it as fair as possible between schools. Paying players would benefit the schools who could afford to pay. I don’t’ see the NCAA allowing that. As for running a team like an NFL team… I don’t see any problems with it as long as it is within the limits of the rules of the conference and NCAA. Each player will make a decision on what program will best afford them a chance to turn pro OR to educate them to join the work force. As long as the players understand the offers they are being given and are not being lied to… I don’t see anything wrong in letting the players/families decide what is best for them. I would like to see 4 year scholarship offers in lieu of the 1 year renewable… but in the end I think the players/families need to understand and decide what is best for them… Not the NCAA.

  12. Bathel,
    If one person had been run off via medical hardship to make room on the roster, it could of happened to anyone. Kirschman was given season tickets as a departing gift so maybe there are other things being given away to keep these kids hush.
    The other portion is breaking down the list of players on the medical hardship list you offer. I have no doubt in my mind Protho was a great candidate for a medical. They guy was a stud and broke his leg. The other kids who were 2, 3, 4 deep with tons of promise, this could just be a form of coachspeak. Every year in the media there are long stories of how kid A is going to be such a stud and kid B while not highly recruited is going to make a big difference. How these two recruits are fight for a back up position, blah blah blah but we really dont know where they really sit. Every kid on the team is fighting for a starting sport or back up spot so this is really not a defense. One thing there really is no defense for is Saban’s abnormally high rate of medical hardships. No one can seem to explain why he has such high numbers but always try and defend him. Until someone is able to explain why Saban’s medical hardship numbers are so high (while on an oversigned roster) then this issue will continue to come up, plain and simple.

    • Again he was not given anything except what was due to him. Do some of you not actually research before you proclaim it. A player on a medical hardship still receives the same benefits a regular player does as long as they have eleigibility left. For example tickets to games and the degree paid for, even grad shcool.

      But again no one can explain to me why people promote falsehoods without actually knowing.

    • One thing there really is no defense for is Saban’s abnormally high rate of medical hardships

      If that’s true, then there’s no defense for Pellini’s rash of medical scholarships which are also adnormally high.

      • 3 medical hardships in 3 years is abnormally high? That simply makes no sense. What you are failing to ever accept is the ‘trend’. Now if the next 2 years Pelini has 3 each season then we have a problem. The fact is, Saban has had 12 over 4 years which is a ‘TREND’!

        • There you go trying to defend Pellini. Didn’t you read where I stated that there was no defense. Since I said so, it must true.

          • Vesper,
            its facts, not opinions. Pelini has had 3 in 3 years he has coached at Nebraska and Saban has had 12 in 4 years since he has been coach. It is fact! When determining data we dont take one year to determine something is a trend, we take several and determine if it is a trend or not. Simple. Do you always compare apples to oranges?

      • Vesper,

        I could find this myself, but you seem to have this stuff at the tip of your fingertips.

        1 – What were the MH numbers during the Shula era year to year?
        2 – What have been Saban’s numbers year to year? I keep hearing the gross, but I don’t recall y-t-y data.

        Thanks

    • No one can seem to explain why he has such high numbers but always try and defend him

      I can do that… he had 12 different players get 12 serious injuries. There done.

      Can you please show me one case where the player wasn’t hurt?

      Listen… if I am all for rules to try to limit any abuse that can happen with Medicals. I would and do support a NCAA clearing house for them. However to call Saban a cheat and an unethical person without the lest bit of proof is… well, unethical. I tend to side with the doctors on this one. Besides, if they were not hurt… they could easly have transfered elsewhere to play… it’s not like any of these kids were 3rd stringers.

      • no because you cant take any player on any team (except maybe kicker/punter) who has been participating in practice and games who is not hurt. Kirschman was currently practicing with the team and was approached to take a medical hardship. How was he able to practice but they deemed him too hurt to be on athletic scholarship on the team? There is one case, evidentially you didnt read this thread.

        • You tell us you seem to already state wrong doing. So please enlighten us with an actual fact and not your opinion. If you can provide facts to support the assumption you just made I will support your theory. But it does need to be more than what Joshua has provided, because all that info does is imply with no facts to support your claims.

  13. Yes they do get tickets as long as there is edibility remaining. He makes it sound like he gets tickets currently, and Im pretty sure he has exhausted his edibility.

    • I get free tickets to most UNC games. If I were a former player, would this be a violation? Serious question.

    • “edibility” — better go get some grub

    • Kirshman was part of the 2006 recruiting class. He redshirted the 2006 season. He was part of the team in ’07 and ’08. He finished his bachelor’s degree in May of 2009 (after 3 years), and went on medical hardship with 2 years of eligibility remaining. Thus, he is entitled to tuition, tickets, etc… during the 09-10 and 10-11 academic years. So, he received grad school tuition and tickets because he was entitled to them, not as some sort of extra enticement to get him to agree to going on medical scholarship.

    • The reason they were offering grad school is because he had 2 years of eligibilty left. He was part of the 2006 class and redshirted that year. 2007-2008 and 2008-2009(year he got medical hardship) only used up 2 more years. Since he was a 4.0 student and with summer school he had graduated that spring. With 2 years of eligibility left he decided to go to grad school since UA was obligated to pay for 2 more years of school as long as he stayed qualified academically which seems to be no concern there. During those 2 years he would still get the free tickets like any one else on the team.

      The article said he would get to keep some perks like the free tickets. No where does it say they were given to him as a benefit or part of buying him off like you and Joshua want to imply. Also no where does it say that this was not during those years. You seem to state something as fact everytime now because Joshua implies it. It does not help your credibility except show every chance you get to slam UA and make false alegations against them you do. Sorry but that is how it appears.

  14. I haven’t read through all the comments yet. But, I wanted to point out a couple of VERY critical points of this one young man’s situation that need to be addressed. I am going to present these as food for thought and I would like feedback…..

    Not only was this player asked to agree to take the medical hardship. He was encouraged to do so with parting gifts. Alabama offered to pay for his graduate degree (think MBA here). And in case you couldn’t read between the lines – Alabama GOT HIM A JOB at Mercedes as a robot programmer. This is very likely a minimum 65-70K per year position not including benefits. I would also suspect based on having been in automotive manufacturing for many years myself that this is an HOURLY position. Which means he is getting paid overtime. This “career placement” is probably worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $100K per year to young Mr. Kirschman. Now, I am sure that he is a great guy and good student (4.0). But, I am also not naive enough to believe that he could have gotten this job at such a tender age with NO PREVIOUS experience were it not for a little help from his (Bama) friends.

    He also admits in the WSJ article that he gets tickets (think FREE tickets here) and access to the program that your average Joe does not. I don’t think the access is that big of a deal. Most former players take advantage of that. But, I don’t think getting free season tickets is a normal perk that all former players are provided.

    I don’t know how this is not considered an NCAA violation when you are enticing current players with perks. This is no different than offering a player a car or money. I know it is pretty customary at any school for the alumni to lend a helping hand to former players in assisting them with finding jobs or providing references – AFTER they have finished their playing career.

    Mr. Kirschman all but ADMITS that Alabama offered him a) a job b) season tickets and c) a paid MBA degree WHILE HE WAS STILL A MEMBER OF THE ALABAMA FOOTBALL TEAM!!!!!!! All in order to get him to no longer be a member of the Alabama football team. I don’t see how this is not a MAJOR NCAA violation.

    Please cut and paste this to all SEC message boards and forward to the NCAA. If enough people cry foul, this crap will be regulated and stopped.

    • You need to read above…

      He had 2 years left of eligablity so his Grad Degree was due to be paid under normal rules. Tickets are part of that normal package that go with his eligablity and is not abnormal.

      I don’t know where you get the idea he was placed at a Auto manuf plant by Alabama… I think that might take some Tin Foil hat reading between the lines to come up with that….

      • Wouldn’t shock me a big to learn with some investigative journalism that he still is working on his MBA and Bama is still footing the bill or that he was still getting free season tickets. And I guarantee you that Bama got him a job at Mercedes (which is in Tuscaloosa).

        Nothing more than organized cheating going on here.

        “Mr. Kirschman said the school offered in the summer of 2009 to pay for his graduate degree in business—an offer he accepted—and that he still gets some of the same perks as players. “I still get game tickets, which is nice,” he says.”

        Pretty funny that both the former player and the author emphasized that Bama offered to pay and he accepted AND that he still gets tickets – which is nice. Why go out of their way to draw attention to something that is standard protocol? Maybe, because it isn’t???????

      • Why bother answering someone like this poster Concerned. Again he is another full of hate towards a program. Because if he did the so called investigative work he would have the info to support his wild claims. But as you can tell he can not fully read except the part he can try and twist.

        Just chalk up another one to the tinfoil hat crowd. Joshua is starting to get a few of those on here now.

        • and soccer, where is all this evidence that points out ‘nothing foul’ happened. We can go round and round on this all day. You say where is the evidence something happened wrong and I say where is the evidence saying something didnt happen that was wrong. I tell you right now there is more evidence pointing to foul play, then not.
          Answer this for me, how many athletes have enough time to get a degree in 3 years? How many can get that degree in 4 years? The load of classes and sports is too great the percentage cant be high. I highly doubt this kid graduated with a bachelors degree in 3 years btw.

          • The kid has a 4.0 gpa according to him. Combine that with football players who also attend summer school where most students do not. What are you implying he is not smart enough with a 4.0 to finish his degree in 3 years. I guess now you are saying that McElroy really did not either or finish his masters. I am glad now ,because to fit your arguement, this kid must not be smart enough to do it.

            So answer this for me how many football players in Div I maintain a 4.0. But it does happen. Just like all the ones Joshua has posted on this site in regards to Saban’s march to 85 where he criticizes Saban for not renewing scholarships of players whoi have eligibility left but graduated. But I guess Joshua evidence he provided is now wrong since it does not support you.

            In regards to going round and round I did not know it changed. It use to be innocent until proven guilty but you think guilty before innocent. I am glad you feel you know so much but yet you have not provided one shred of evedence other than what Joshua has. I guess it makes you an expert on oversigning, proving who is guilty, and who is able to do what academically. I am glad you are judge and jury on these topics.

          • I highly doubt this kid graduated with a bachelors degree in 3 years btw

            Then, you would be wrong. Charlie Kirschman received his bachelor’s degree on May 9th, 2009:

            http://blog.al.com/bamabeat/2009/05/former_tider_sam_shade_returns.html

            He was part of Alabama’s 2006 signing class and redshirted his freshman year. So, like I said, he is entitled to tuition, tickets, etc… for the ’09-’10 and ’10-’11 academic years.

            Graduating in 3 years is difficult but I don’t know why you would think that he couldn’t get it done. Most players take classes year round and some have college credit coming out of high school thanks to AP classes.

        • The only people defending “the truth” on here are blind homer, delusional Bama fans who think their *(&* don’t stink. Everyone else without blinders sees what is really going on here.

          • If you need some more foil let me know. But to be honest input like yours adds no value, but if it lets you feel better about yourself to personally attack others go ahead.

            If you are here to discuss oversigning as a whole please contribute but just here to bash you will be like others on here most will ignore.

    • Here Vesper did a better job with it than me…

      By Vesper:
      Kirshman was part of the 2006 recruiting class. He redshirted the 2006 season. He was part of the team in ‘07 and ‘08. He finished his bachelor’s degree in May of 2009 (after 3 years), and went on medical hardship with 2 years of eligibility remaining. Thus, he is entitled to tuition, tickets, etc… during the 09-10 and 10-11 academic years. So, he received grad school tuition and tickets because he was entitled to them, not as some sort of extra enticement to get him to agree to going on medical scholarship.

    • Guess what took me all of 1 google search to locate?

      A list of students from the Masters Program in Economics, Finance and Legal Studies at UA that references one Charles Kirschman as “an outstanding student” and recipient of an academic award.

      http://www.cba.ua.edu/efl/outstanding-students

      Before you run around smearing former player accomplishments in the name of smearing Saban, do 3 seconds of research. And if you think Mercedes – which, last I checked, has HQ on another continent – has some cush agreement with UA football, you are sadly mistaken. I’ve met a couple of plant execs at B&Bs over near Maggie Valley — they barely know American football exists. Because they’re German.

      Good lord.

      • BetterRed will not research. He is so blinded by his desire to attack UA and everybody affiliated with it he quickly makes acquisations without supporting it. I actually doubt he will respond to your post and if he does he will twist it and probably say that the player never really attended classes or some crap.

      • By the way In The Middle, did you say you live in Asheville. I do but am moving to CH this summer.

        • near Asheville. 10 minutes

          • Cool, I live in Biltmore Park on the south side. Will miss the flyfishing I do couple of days a week but looking forward to the move to CH.

            • Enjoy CH. We make three trips there every year – basketball camp, a football game and a basketball game.

              Love the mountains. We’re a short bike ride from Mills River Park. We still get deer wandering across the back acreage.

      • This isn’t about German Execs who can’t speak English. This is about good ole boy backdoor politics in Alabama.

        • It’s about your complete inability to weigh facts, substituting instead your own stereotypes and fantasies.

          The execs spoke wonderful English. They just didn’t give a crap about SEC football. If the plant gave Kirschman a job, it’s because he was a 4.0 student (documented) and not because someone at the university made a call to a buddy down at the plant.

          Let me make it simple for you – if you want to throw around those sort of accusations with zero proof, then at least have the guts to do it without hiding behind an anonymous identity. Use your real name if you believe it that strongly. Otherwise, you’re just another coward who thinks that trying to ruin someone’s reputation via total speculation on Internet boards equals entertainment.

          You’re as sick as that Updyke dude who poisoned the trees.

          • Whatever big internet badass. Did your mama name you In The Middle (Tar Heel)? That’s unique.

            I deal only in facts and if you have your head too far in the sand to see what is really going on, then I pity you. You need to seek some counseling for your failure to analyze reality and your anger.

            • That’s funny, the closest thing to a fact you have posted to date is a quote from the WSJ article which you immediately spun into some accusations that have no validity. Strip away everything you have said but facts, and you would have nothing at all.

              • I know an awful lot more than I am willing to post on an open forum. Just know that the NCAA is well aware of the illegal practices employed by Mr. Saban and there will be consequences that the program will suffer at some point in time.

                Patience, young grasshopper!

                • And after your rebuttal, my previous post remains true.

                  • I’ll post whatever I want within the rules. And just know this……they ain’t nothing you can do about it. Watching you Bama homers deny all of this is good therapy for my high intellectual status.

                    What time does shift end over at Mercedes?

            • My anger? I’m not the one taking four words out of an article from a year ago and spinning it into rank libel just because I have nothing better to do with my time. I don’t what Alabama did to your team at some point in the past, but let me assure you – it’s over and done with. You can move on.

              • Look, here is the bottom line. I am an automotive manufacture exec. I grew up in a somewhat small town in a good ole boy network. Stuff like this goes on all the time with major football programs and athletes. I am not saying that this young man is not smart, nor deserving. All I am saying is that it is very likely that he was aided in the job search/placement due to his being a member of the UA football team. And I could very easily see this being a condition of him agreeing to take the bait. I don’t blame him if that be the case. It is a flawed system.

                • Thank you for backing that down.

                  Serious question, to an auto exec: Would you ever participate in something like that? How does it benefit you? Your employer? And wouldn’t a move like that generate at least some questions by other employees? And, last of all, doesn’t your company have stringent HR policies that (A) make this sort of thing extremely difficult and (B) get you fired for attempting to circumvent them?

                  Volvo (the equipment manufacturer, not the auto division Ford bought) has a large plant up here (well, it used to be large), and even local tech positions get routed through a blind software system that reviews resumes and spits out people to be interviewed. The interview process itself has checks and balances out the wazoo. Why? Because the people in Sweden (or wherever) don’t want the local good ol’ boy network taking over their local operation.

                  I tend to believe Mercedes probably operates the same way.

                  • See it all the time regardless of industry. I worked for a major NA company about 6 years ago (name withheld) that was the industry leader at the time. 40 billion per year organization with all the checks and balances in place that you reference. One of the senior managers hired a friend of his he used to work with at FedEx. Within a year, there were probably 15 other former FedEx guys who all came over from the same location that the first guy had left.

                    Networking and the ability to walk someone’s resume down to a hiring manager and say “hey, I know this guy” still trumps “keyword” software any day of the week.

  15. “Let’s take Alabama and Nick Saban’s name off of this and just talk about the issue…”

    Reviewing most of the comments here… so much for a discussion.

  16. Here is the latest for UA. This will probably get twisted around but again without facts it adds no value.

    Now K Kelly it has been noted that he has not played a down at UA in the 2 years enrolled. Coming out of HS he was still recovering from a broken leg and was put on a medical redshirt his freshman year. Remember he ranked the 7th overall WR in the country and CNS recruited him as an athlete. Last spring he broke the rotation as a safety but during the fall camp was removed from playing because of some heat related illness that caused him to pass out on the field. No one for sure ever heard exactly what the cause of it was but his plight has been well documented. He is one I said a while back that will probably go a medical hardship.

    Murphy not sure of the injury but will hurt if he does not return. He played alot this past fall and was a starter at times. Originally part of the 07 class but did not qualify until the 09 class. Top DT coming out of HS. With UAs lack of depth returing on the DL this is a player that will be missed if he goes out.

    G Harbin was a name everyone had mentioned would be tranferring in the spring to USA back in November. Looks now he will play baseball instead of football for UA next year.

    W Neighbors, I really have no idea on him. He has been hit or miss since he has been at UA with injuries left and right and never really doing much on the field. He could be that could be questioned without more info.

    http://alabama.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1196202

  17. Using Charlie Kirschman (CK) as a example of abusing a student-athlete, the system, medical scholarships, etc., in any way is laughable. CK is obviously a smart person. He not only earned an undergraduate degree but also a graduate degree from the University of Alabama. Why? Because the University of Alabama GAVE him an athletic-scholarship, which he earned and accepted. Here is a guy who took advantage of all his opportunities while he was able to play football at the University of Alabama. Let’s shame the University for protecting his health from further injury by giving him a medical scholarship. Let’s shame the University for allowing him to continue his studies on scholarship, despite the fact, he could no longer play football “safely”. Let’s shame the University for giving a “cast-away” student-athlete footabll tickets to the games because he was no longer apart of the football program. Yeah, that sounds like the “evil” Nick Saban abusing a player to me…not. If anything, Saban should have kept “abusing” CK by keeping him on the team longer just for the sake of the APR score. No, just kidding. The point is…the University of Alabama did not have to offer CK anthing, including an atheltic-scholarship, but it did. CK freely accepted the offer and the benefits that went with the offer. CK took advantage of those benefits. He earned two degrees from the University. Now he does not have to worry about a future in which he has to pay off student loans for the next 10 to 15 years. Good for him. Granted, he may experience pain or continued pain from his injuries at some point in his life, but that was the trade-off he was willing to except when he decided to play football. Not losing any sleep over this “abuse.”

  18. This site and this article are nothing more than a continued failed attempt to discredit Nick Saban (NS) and the University of Alabama (UA) on the way NS and UA approach the recruiting, signing, and the placement of a student-athlete on a medical disqualification. The facts on how NS and the UA handle medical disqualifications don’t support this sites opinion, but facts don’t seem to matter here. The only thing that seems to matter here is putting forth an agenda, based on opinions, to discredit NS and UA, which again is not supported by facts. Here is an article regarding that WSJ article about Alabama. It includes the response from the University of Alabama associate director of athletics about medical disqualifications. Link provided below:
    http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2010/09/alabama_responds_to_newspaper.html

    Alabama was the main focus of a Wall Street Journal report last week that cited several Southeastern Conference schools pushing roster limits through pressuring players to accept medical scholarships.

    The practice cleared the way for better players, according to the paper.

    On Tuesday, Alabama associate director of athletics Doug Walker provided the school’s response when requested.

    “Our first priority is always the current and future well-being of our students,” Walker wrote in a statement. “Decisions about medical disqualifications for student-athletes are made by medical professionals and adhere to the parameters outlined by the NCAA (NCAA Bylaw 15.5.1.3) and the Southeastern Conference.

    “The process for medical disqualification is very similar from campus to campus across the country. Student-athletes must sign a Medical Exemption Certificate as required by the SEC. They certify to the SEC that they fully understand the conditions of being classified as an Exempted Player and that the diagnosis of the injury or illness clearly appears to be incapacitating and that there is reasonable expectation that [they] will never again be able to participate in intercollegiate athletics.

    “In every case where a medical disqualification occurs, the student-athlete’s scholarship remains in place as long as he or she remains in good academic standing. An injury or medical issue does not affect a student-athlete’s opportunity to finish his or her degree.”

    The Wall Street Journal spoke with three former Alabama football players including former running back Jeramie Griffin, who said he was surprised when he failed a physical last month before accepting a medical scholarship and an offer to become a student coach for the team.

    To the author of this little hit-piece. Seriously…Do some research on the topic before you spout off about something that you apparently are ill-informed about because otherwise you look foolishly ignorant.

    • Couple of points: why are there guys saying that they felt pushed into the hardships to free up space calling it the use of a loophole in the system? Why does Alabama have so many more of these than other schools? Of you don’t think other schools know what Alabama is doing and are not working behind the scenes to address it then you are not as plugged in as you think you are. I can assure you there are people working behind the scenes on all of this. Not everyone involved in college athletics is a gullible fan, as you appear to be.

  19. A medical professional determines whether a player is disqualified not Nick Saban. That’s the facts. Maybe Alabama has more scholarships disqualifications because the University of Alabama cares more for the well being of it’s student-athletes than other schools. Maybe Nick Saban runs a more physical program than other schools. Maybe it’s bad luck. Maybe there is no real explanation. Or maybe others want so badly to discredit Nick Saban that they will say anything. Just like this site. Again these explanations will be quickly dismissed because it doesn’t fit the agenda of this site.


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