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:
- Renewal-counter (SAs who have returned, are on aid, and count against the limit of 85)
- 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)
- Nonrenewal-graduate (SAs who were not renewed because they graduated)
- 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.