Chad Hawley on how the Big 10 Monitors Oversigning

Chad Hawley, Associate Commissioner of the Big 10 Conference, was kind enough to take a few minutes and explain to us exactly how the Big 10 Conference monitors oversigning, and what he has shared with us shines a new light on a few things we were not aware of, things that, in our opinion, actually make the recruiting process much more restrictive than just limiting oversigning.  We were aware that there was an audit prior to national signing day to determine the number of scholarships available and that schools had to establish their budget prior to signing day, but we had no idea that Big 10 schools were limited in the number of offers they could give out in addition to being limited to oversigning by 3.  

As outlined in step 1, the Big 10 limitation is triggered by the issuance of an offer, not by the acceptance on the part of the prospect.  Therefore, Big 10 schools are required to establish a budget number for how many OFFERS they can give with an exception of no more than 3 over what they have room for under the 85 limit at any one time.  Mr. Hawley notes that several institutions overoffered, but as of right now there is only 1 institution that is oversigned.  Therefore, despite having the option to oversign by 3, of the 12 member institutions, only 1 has oversigned. 

In reading between the lines just a little here (we should probably ask a follow up question on this), it appears that the number of offers a Big 10 institution can issue is controlled by the conference office.  Step 2 indicates that there is a little bit of wiggle room in total number of overoffers, but that there can be no more than 3 at one time.   It would be interesting to see just how many are given out over the course of a recruiting class.  However, given that you can only have 3 over the budget number at a time and that you would have to wait until a recruit turns the offer down to issue a replacement, it's hard to imagine that schools would be offering way more than they have room for under the 85 limit.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Hawley's email:

Several of our institutions overoffered, but as of now I'm aware of only one institution that actually oversigned.  We'll take the official inventory after the signing period ends.  

This is how our monitoring process works:

Step 1 (Prior to the signing period):  An institution notifies us of the number of scholarships available and whether they intend to use the exception to overoffer. [I think I may have explained this previously, but in case I haven't, our rule is triggered by the offer of aid, not the acceptance on the part of the prospect.  In other words, technically our exception is that an institution my overoffer by 3.]

Step 2 (Prior to/throughout the signing period):  An institution that overoffers submits the name(s) of the prospect(s) who received the offer(s) that exceeded the institution's limit.  Per our rule, there may be no more than 3 outstanding overoffers; if an institution offers beyond the original three names submitted, the institution must indicate why it is permissible to issue an additional overoffer (e.g., "This additional offer is permissible because an offeree signed with another institution, which reduced the number of outstanding overoffers to two").   

Step 3 (After classes have begun in the fall):  An institution that ultimately oversigned has to account for every signed prospect--did they enroll, and if not, why?  In addition, the institution has to account for every student-athlete who received a scholarship the previous year.  These SAs will fall into 4 basic categories: 

  1. Renewal-counter (SAs who have returned, are on aid, and count against the limit of 85)
  2. Renewal-noncounter (SAs who have returned, are on aid, but do not count against the limit of 85--e.g., exhausted eligibility SAs and medical noncounters)
  3. Nonrenewal-graduate (SAs who were not renewed because they graduated)
  4. Nonrenewal-other (This category would include SAs who have--for example--transferred, quit, turned professional, or knew they were getting aid for just one year)

For any SA who is categorized as "nonrenewal-other," the institution has to provide not just the reason the SA was "nonrenewal-other," but also information regarding that SA's history at the institution (including academic history), who initiated the nonrenewal (the SA or institution), whether a hearing for nonrenewal of aid was requested, and finally the SA's present status (i.e., does he remain enrolled at the institution, is he enrolled elsewhere, etc.).

This is pretty interesting stuff because many of you who debate this topic in the comments section were talking about controlling the number of scholarships offered. 

Mark Richt has some very strong words about schools offering scholarships like candy:

One of the hardest things for us to do is to evaluate and nail down who you’re going to go after, especially in our own state. A lot of the out of state teams will just come in and just offer like mad. They’ll come in and just offer like candy. Quite frankly I’m not going to name names of schools, but a lot of them will do that just to get in the fight and if the kid commits too soon and they’re not sure they want, they’ll just tell them that’s not a committable offer. Whatever the heck that means?


Perhaps when the SEC meets this summer to discuss oversigning they can look at some of the guidelines and rules the Big 10 has set forth to eliminate the abuse and consider adopting them.  We are certain that Mark Richt would appreciate a limitation on the number of offers that can be issued.

In addition to controlling the number of offers, step 3 also provides some insight as to the transparency required when oversigning actually occurs, as well as requiring a full account of every SA that received a scholarship the previous year.

Mr. Hawley has indicated that would be glad to try and answer any follow up questions.  We have a few of our own, but wanted to get feedback from our readers before sending our own questions.

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  1. Posted this in another thread. Lets see what sleazy and unethical conduct looks like up close. Link provided. A pathetic college coach offering one kid an athletic scholarship so as to entice his close friend to sign a scholarship at the same university. Notice that the one kid had NO other offers from any other schools. Notice how this kid just happened to be the close friend to the number one rated high school running back in the country. Can it be more blatantly obvious that that coach and that university do not care about the sleaze factor or about ethics? Oh, this is perfectly OK and perfectly ethical because it’s not over signing. Talk about doing anything to gain a competitive advantage. Burn an extra scholarship on a kid, which other schools don’t have, just to sign the number one rated running back. Now that that’s sleazy. I know, I know. Blame Nick Saban. It’s Nick Saban’s fault. I get it. Saban forced Georgia to be unethical.


    • I don’t have a problem with Georgia offering a kid that has no offers but is the best friend of a 5* recruit. That is their choice. If they want to waste a scholarship in this way, they should be free to do so.

      Scholarships are precious items. Personally, I think Georgia is making a mistake.

      What I would have a serious problem with is making that scholarship contingent on anything the 5* does. They are independent acts. If the 5* signs with Bama, Georgia can’t pull the scholarship. If the 5* signs with Georgia, the kid can’t be run of after a year. That would be unethical.

      • Agreed, and that’s not what Georgia did. Harrow’s offer was given and accepted before Crowell’s commitment.

        This is just a typically desperate attempt by an Alabama fan to obfuscate the reality of what Alabama is doing.

        • Or maybe Georgia saw something in the kid and wanted to give him a chance. I am not a fan of Georgia but sometimes kids get a recruit. Nebraska offered Adam Carriker when he never received any division I offers as a 2 star prospect, now he is in the NFL. It happens.

    • How is this unethical?

    • Not unethical at all. If Georgia thinks Crowell’s worth in effect two scholarships, more power to them. Had they made Harrow’s offer conditional to Crowell’s, that would be a problem. But they didn’t, and it’s not.

  2. What is unethical about offering a kid a scholarship, and then giving him the scholarship? It’s unethical if you do something that hurts that kid – like never come through with promised scholarship, or going back on your word. I don’t see that happening. Hunt witches often?

    • When Crowell’s mother heard that her son’s friend had been offered a schoolie, she quickly came out and said that it would not influence her son’s decision. Who knows whether ot not it ended up playing a part? But don’t be naive. Everyone knows that the only reason UGA would have offered that kid a schollie, when no other D-1 team had done so, was so that Crowell would play there too. Take off your blinders.

      • You still have failed to show how it is unethical to offer a kid a scholarship and then provide said scholarship. It does not matter why the other kid was offered the scholarship if he was awarded the scholarship. Your’s and Brian’s arguments make no sense at all.

        Your argument is the “headscratcher”

        • Here is my point. No school or coach has an obligation to offer any kid a scholarship, but they do. It is a privilege to play football at any university, not a right. That privilege can be taken from the student-athlete with cause, including performance based issues. Coaches offer scholarships because of the student-athlete’s athletic ability, not because of their academic ability. If the kid has both, that’s even better. The student-athlete can take or leave a scholarship offer by any school, including a gray-shirt offer. If a kid wants to accept an offer, any offer, including a gray-shirt offer, for whatever reason, then that is his business. In Quintavious Harrow situation, he took the best offer he had, which in his case was the ONLY offer he had. I offer Petey Smith as Exhibit B. Mr. Smith is a current football player at Alabama. Mr. Smith was an All-American recruit in high school. He had scholarship offers from several Division-1 colleges. Those offers were not gray-shirt offers. He had several options. However, Mr. Smith had an offer from Alabama, but it was a gray-shirt offer. Mr. Smith decided to accept the gray-shirt offer from Alabama despite the fact he could have signed a scholarship at practically every major college football program in the nation and enroll without delay. That was his decision to accept the gray-shirt offer at Alabama. He made his decision based on factors, which were important to him and that’s all that matters – Not what this site inaccurately believes to be unethical conduct!

          The other point is; this is not a black and white issue. Several factors determine whether a kid is not on scholarship or why the scholarship is not renewed and why schools sign 28 but only take 25. For instance, some student-athletes have the following issues, which might affect their status as a player: it could be academic, performance, medical, legal, family issues, juniors entering the draft early, and in rare instances, as has been the case at Alabama, some signees decided to pursue professional baseball careers instead of attending college. The numbers get skewed for a number of possible reasons. However, this site does not want to except any of these possibilities or acknowledge them. It only has an agenda to discredit Nick Saban no matter what the evidence might be. This site simply misrepresents the facts, concocts lies, repeats them, and then repeats them over and over again as though they are facts. It is done despite evidence to the contrary. For example, last year or the previous year (don’t remember) Les Miles oversigned, which forced one student-athlete at LSU to delay enrollment. The student-athlete had no warning whatsoever that it was coming. Yet, this site pretends that it is Nick Saban who has been doing this type of thing, despite no evidence supporting it. Ole Miss Houston Nutt grossly oversigned a few years ago, yet Nick Saban is made the poster boy for that problem, which he was not a part of. Alabama has a higher number of medical disqualifications than other schools, so everyone assumes Saban is running them off by way of medical disqualifactions. Have you ever listened to Saban talk about what he wants in his team? He wants them to dominate the oppostion, be physically imposing, to impose their will on the oppornent, to make their “ass quit.” Maybe, just maybe, Saban runs a more physical program than other schools, which might cause some of these medical disqualifications. The disqualifications are not determine by Saban but by a medical professional. However, the goal of this site is to give others the impression that Alabama/Saban is unprofessional and unethical. This is done because that is what this site wants to do. This site hopes by repeating the lies, the misrepresentations of fact, etc., that people will come to believe that the allegations about Saban/Alabama must be true and that something must be done about it. That’s the agenda. The irony is, this site promotes the very thing that it accuses Saban of doing to recruits, that is, lying

          • If nick saban would allow some level of transparency into his public institution based program, maybe all of your maybes would be proven true. Maybe they would be proven false. Maybe there would be a combination of both. Why don’t Alabama citizens require this of their public institution? Is is, as long as Nick wins, they don’t care?

            • I don’t think Nick Saban is all that different in terms of transparency than a lot of other coaches out there. Didn’t you say the other day that there was a big debate on PSU boards about whether a certain player was on scholly or not? Why doesn’t JoePa release to the public a list of which players are on scholly? The reality is that very few, if any, coaches do this but only Saban is demonized for it.

              • PSU and all B1G schools are required to provide this data to the conference. Does the SEC have similar requirements?

                The debate at PSU was a former walk on and if he would continue to be given grant in aid going forward. The debate on PSU sites was about 1 kid over my memory in following this type of stuff. Plotit was around in the mid ’90s where people tried track and discuss this type of information. One question over 15 or so years versus the questions surrounding Bama yearly. HUGE difference.

                • i don’t know about SEC requirements, but every school is required to submit a list of scholarship players to the NCAA.

                  When it comes to PSU vs Bama, I still don’t see a difference in terms of transparency. That is unless PSU releases it’s list of scholarship players to the public in addition to the Big Ten and NCAA. Does PSU release its list to the public?

            • Nick Saban provides everything he is required to provide according to NCAA and SEC rules. If he intentionally withholds information he is supposed to provide, he will be held accountable and should punished accordingly.

  3. But yet Georgia should consider leaving the SEC since they are so against oversigning (as has been suggested here numerous times)? Maybe UGA should focus on keeping its athletes out of jail, and THEN worry about oversigning at other schools.

    • Do they have any athletes in jail? If not, I guess they could worry about oversigning, but this situation has nothing to do with oversigning.

  4. Brian,

    These offers you speak of are all of the written variety. There is no tracking of verbal offers by the conference is there?

    I question because of the change in date when written offers can be extended. As of now, no 2012 recruit in the country has a written offer.

    • Good question. I took a quick look on Scout and they show 35 uncommited 2012 prospects with Ohio State (verbal) offers plus another 5 who are verbally commited to Ohio State. Either the +3 limit doesn’t apply to verbal offers or Ohio State is planning on signing a Houston Nutt-sized class.

      So, how does this work Josh? Ohio State has verbally offered 40 players but will only be able to give written offers to ~25? Do the other ~15 have non-committable offers?

      Another question, what happens after the Big Ten receives the school’s explanation of roster changes? Is there a critical review conducted of the report or is it just a rubber stamp?

      • This article is a little msileading. Maybe Joshua can shed some light on OSU recruiting budget for next year. But right now OSU has 6 commits already for the 2012 class and according to one site also have 36 offers already out there besides those 6. That is 42 offers extended to players. But this article says the Big 10 does not allow that so I am a little confused.

        Vesper you also have to include in C Jones the player they grayshirted for next year and that will give them 6 current commits. Again way over any limitation this article states.

      • As Josh clarified below and I suspected, it’s written offers. OSU and the other B1G schools are no different than most schools. With the exception of Florida under Urban. They routinely had verbal offers in the 100′s if you trust the recruiting sites.

        By the way, don’t trust the recruiting sites. Verbal offers listed there can only come from the recruit or someone involved with the recruit that the site talks with. There are some that have some limited access to the school and get some “off the record” feedback but not many. They are no where near accurate. I’ve seen high school coaches build up recruits claiming offers that don’t exist. I’ve also seen recruits do the exact same thing.

  5. Is there a link to the Big Ten rules that we can actuallly read or are we limited to Mr. Hawley’s recollection?

  6. 2.Renewal-noncounter (SAs who have returned, are on aid, but do not count against the limit of 85–e.g., exhausted eligibility SAs and medical noncounters)

    How would a SA exhaust eligibillity but still be on aid? Academic scholarship?

    3.Nonrenewal-graduate (SAs who were not renewed because they graduated)

    This doesn’t say anything about whether or not the SA has eligibility remaining. If a SA has graduated but still has eligibility remaining, is it ok with the Big Ten if his scholarship is not renewed? Is it true that Notre Dame – not in the Big Ten, I know – does this on a regular basis? What is oversigning.com’s view on this practice?

    • Not oversigning.com, but there is nothing wrong with it. The school served it’s mission of grant in aid to allow the kid to get a degree. They are typicall redshirt seniors or at the worst redshirt juniors. If they want to continue to play football, they are free to attend graduate school anywhere in the country.

      You’re free to disagree, but the mission of the school’ grant in aid is to allow the kid to get his degree. In this case they served the mission.

    • Extremely familiar with Notre Dame: what is the practice you wish to have clarified? If a player has graduated, then they must apply for a fifth year, since ND will not recognize a “redshirt year” until the student has already graduated. Technically, no player at ND from year 1-4 has had a redshirt year until ND grants them a fifth year. Thus, if you look at their roster, they might have 8 5th year players. These eight represent the entire cumulative number of redshirt years taken on the 85 player roster (per a prior post, this stands in contrast with Iowa, where someone posted that 90% of the squad has “consumed” its red shirt year independently of the squad’s academic graduation rate). It is a device that ensures that football players have to make standard progress towards receiving a degree in four years and is one reason why ND routinely has 90+ graduation rates for AA and Non-AA players. The downside for the program is that it does not “consume” football eligibility first and worry about academic graduation later. I have no doubt the practice hurts its performance on the field but the trade-off is that it attains an impressive graduation rate — one that is higher for its football players (even for its AA football players) that is 10-15 percentage points higher than the student body at large for State U.

      In terms of oversigning.com’s view, I would bet that the response is remarkably easy to predict: I would hope that every school in the US adopts a policy that states that an athlete who is eligible for a fourth year of athletics in their fifth year of academic matriculation is required to first graduate at the end of their fourth year of academics prior to being granted the privilege of enjoying a fourth year of athletics. Such a policy puts the horse before the cart — (receive a degree then play) — don’t you think, Vesper?

      • That’s great but doesn’t really address the crux of the issue. Is it ok with the anti-oversigning crowd if a school opts to not renew the scholarship of a student-athlete who has graduated but has eligibility remaining?

        • What are you trying to prove about those of us who don’t like oversigning? You’ve seen my comment. Disagree with anything?

          • I’m trying – so far unsuccessfully – to get Josh to go on record with his view. A large percentage of Alabama’s attrition the last few years has been players who have already earned their degrees, but that hasn’t stopped it from being characterized as something untoward on Alabama’s part. Saban indicated in his NSD press conference that there may be some current players who have their degrees who may decide that they don’t want to play their 5th year. If, and when, that happens; I guarentee that Josh will make a big deal about it and claim that they were forced out to make room for new recruits. So, is it ok for all schools to not renew the scholarship of a 5th year senior, or is it only ok for schools that don’t oversign?

        • Thank you for the compliment. However, this answer does answer your question. I saw that you posted the same question in most recent thread. I answered you again, in more detail, and quite frankly your issue has been raised and answered.

          If you believe that my answers do not address your question then you should be asking a different question. I suspect that the question you really are trying to ask does not include the word “graduate.” What if a player at the end of four years of academic scholarships seeks to player a fifth year of academic funding to pursue a fourth year of athletics and the player has not graduated? I will answer this question for you as well. As posed, this question suggests that a school should be committed to a five-year academic scholarship for four years. I think it is very clear to everyone that under the current framework a university is at the very most making a four year commitment while legally it is a one year commitment.
          So why ask about the possibility of making a five year commitment when schools will not even agree on a four?

          I also assume that you don’t believe that somehow an athlete owns the option to exercise a fifth year — to compel a university to pay for a fifth year of academics.

  7. Joshua,

    See if Hawley can offer some clarification around grayshirting and what is and isn’t allowed in the Big 10.

    I believe there is currently a confusion in terms among some officials. For instance, after Bernie Machen’s and Greg McGarity’s comments, several have pointed to reports that they gave “grayshirt” offers in the recent past. I believe that what Florida and Georgia were offering were actually delayed (i.e. January) enrollment offers that would not have come with a LOI, but for lack of a better term these were called “grayshirt” offers by everyone involved. (The only reason to give a true grayshirt offer is to oversign, and UF/UGA have shown they do not oversign.)

    Not sure how to word the question to Hawley, but I’d be interested to see how the B10 looks at grayshirting.

    • That’s exactly what a grayshirt is.

    • Don’t confuse intent with definition. Greyshirt is delayed enrollment regardless of the reason. There are valid reasons to offer a greyshirt to a recruit and nefarious reasons to suggest one might have to be used.

      • The purpose of the January enrollment simply moves the kid to the next signing class “budget” or whatever conference term applies – correct? Is there any other benefit relative to the school?

        (I know the risks and downsides relative to the kid – this is a focused question.)

        • The only other benefit in both to the school and the kid. An example, to the point. Eric Lattimore was a defensive end recruit from Delaware that verballed to PSU as part of the 2007 class. He delayed enrollment to give him time to recover from two (yes two) separated shoulders that required surgery. He got the benefit of additional time (he also took a redshirt in his first year), and was fully recovered and had an additional year of college weigh training under his belt. The school gets a much better redshirt frosh ready to contribute to the squad.

        • Another benefit to both parties is to put an extra year of separation between the new recruit and an established starter at his position. This is commonly considered to be the reason for Todd Boeckman’s grayshirt. He had Zwick (and ultimately Smith) in front of him, but the staff thought highly of him and this gave him an extra year to be the starter. Ironically, his poor early play in his final year got him benched, but you know sometimes a guy just doesn’t pan out.

  8. Also, the fact that four Auburn football players were arrested today for alleged crimes that could bring 10 years to life in prison if convicted of their alleged crimes, does not reflect on the defenders of oversigning on this board who tend to be SEC fans or detract from their arguments — any more than Tressel’s violations of NCAA rules should detract from the opponents of oversigning who post on this board who tend to be Big Ten fans. Obviously, they are not equivalent actions but both actions are irrelevant for a discussion of oversigning.

  9. 1 – So does the SEC extend actual paperwork in limitless quantities, or do they simply indicate enough level of interest to qualify as a verbal offer? What distinguishes the two?

    2 – If a school sends a kid an actual contract that the kid executes during an approved NCAA signing period, must the school honor the paperwork? If so, then “handing out offers like candy” seems awfully risky.

    • The first time I heard the term committable (sp) written offer, was in reference to Florida under Urban. Urban would issue paper like candy, then refuse to accept at verbal from someone that had a written offer. He’s not the only one that throws them out like spam, but it was his picture in the dictionary next to the term.

  10. Does the Big 10 monitor this? Link provided below. It’s not oversigning but does this site condone this behavior by the head coach to the SA? Is this just as egregious as oversigning? Seems to me, this should be addressed, reported to the Big 10, the NCAA, and an investigation initiated for unethical and dishonest behavior. That hurts the SA, does it not? Can this be defended? Last time I resigned from somewhere to take another job, I gave two weeks notice. No better way to burn bridges than to resign the day before signing day without prior notice, don’t you think? The press release was very vague about when the resignation was submitted. Need more transparency on that. Perhaps this site can change its name to never told.com in honor of Nebraska and its coach.


  11. Now compare these two articles with Saban’s coaching staff this past year. One announced his retirement before signing day and the other, which was also the RECRUITING COORDINATOR, resigned just before signing as well to take another job. Who looks professional and who looks sleazy on the way the coach deals with recruits and recruiting? Can this site handle the truth? Or will it defend Nebraksa because it’s not Alabama/Nick Saban?



  12. Interesting that Mark Richt would talk about giving out scholarships like candy, when they took a verbal commitment from a QB in the state of UGA, then when he came on campus with his family to sign, he then sent an asst coach to tell him that he did not have a scholarship offer after all.


    • i’m sorry, mis-wrote that. they didnt take a verbal offer, they offered him a scholarship, he came on campus with his family to formally commit and then they withdrew the offer.

  13. Chad Hawley is as clueless as the author of this blog!

    For the 2012 signing class the following offers have ALREADY been extended.

    Michigan has currently OFFERED 87
    OSU has currently OFFERED 42
    PSU has currently OFFERED 51
    Illinois has currently OFFERED 112 (that’s right 112)
    Indiana has currently OFFERED 52
    Iowa has currently OFFERED 47
    Michigan State has currently OFFERED 67
    Minnesota has currently OFFERED 33
    Northwestern has currently OFFERED 36
    Purdue has currently OFFERED 44
    Wisconsin has currently offered 34

    Mark Richt and Georgia have currently offered 65

    It is naive and misleading/out right lying, to suggest that a school only “offers”, 3 more players than they have available “spots”
    Every team will miss on many of the players they are recruiting, which is why teams end up offering many more kids than they end up signing.
    This is really similar to when a University “accepts” 2 to 3 times as many applicants to attend school as they actually enroll since the kids apply to many different schools. The Schools hedge their bets when recruiting too, so they don’t wind up striking out on half the kids they were recruiting.

    • Yep, Chad Hawley doesn’t have a clue, he’s only the associate commissioner of the B1G conference…lol. Those offers are not the same as sending a recruit a LOI to sign, which is what is regulated by the conference office. Initial offers are sent out to gauge interest by the recruit, the next step is a verbal commitment, which is not binding but it is generally accepted that when a school accepts a verbal commitment that they intend to issue a LOI for the recruit to sign. You have absolutely no clue what you are talking about — you are in over your head.

  14. You’re misreading the term “offer” in this case. He’s using the term “offer” in the sense we all use “signed LOIs”, not just your run of the mill scholarship offer. Why he overloads the term “offer” here, I have no idea.

    Think about it, if B1G schools were limited by the scholarship offer, then those schools couldn’t ever possibly fill their class unless they had a near 100% hit rate.

  15. I believe the QB deal being questioned concerning UGA has to do with the kid not being academically qualified. They did not just throw him away or discard him after they committed to him. CMR would not do that, so don’t let your blind hatred of UGA, skew the facts.

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