For anyone who wonders where I stand on the issue of oversigning, here goes. As you may know, my undergraduate alma mater is Indiana University. In yesterday's Bloomington (IN) Herald-Times was a story describing the way IU head basketball coach Tom Crean is rebuilding the Hoosiers after the debacle that was Kelvin Sampson. It's not a pretty sight.
For three straight years Crean has struggled to recruit players who can compete on the floor and represent the university's values, while simultaneously passing college courses. Virtually everyone agrees that the kids he's brought in are doing a great job in their off-the-court responsibilities. But there's always that W-L thing. Last season the once mighty Hoosiers won just 3 Big Ten games. Out of 18.
It appears that Crean is turning the corner on big time recruits with the signing of Cody Zeller boy,who is Indiana's reigning Mr. Basketball and a national Top 10 high school All America. Crean's 2012 recruiting class is being called the best at IU since 1975 and perhaps the nation's #1 recruiting class for 2012. The class is strong in both quality and quantity. Therein lies the rub.
IU basketball is currently oversigned by 1 (sadly, this is allowed by the Big Ten conference) but the problem coming down the road is much bigger. I have been watching this looming oversigning status unfold and reading numerous IU basketball fan forums. The consensus of Hoosier fanatics is that Crean is going to have to orchestrate an exodus of players he recruited in their darkest days . . . players who cannot compete at the Big Ten level. Hoosier fans seem entirely OK with that. Many openly state, "That's the way big time sports operates. No player is guaranteed a 5 year career. If they can't cut it, be gone!"
In my opinion these are kids who chose to play for IU when Crean couldn't get top flight recruits to commit. Those kids forsook attending lesser programs where they could have played and probably starred. But commit they did. If those kids are jettisoned when Crean's big time recruits show up, I for one am going to have a big time problem with it.
IU's AD should have told Crean that his mission was to rebuild the Hoosiers slowly but steadily without compromising what's right. Shucking those first two signing classes now that they have better players coming in is just wrong. Moving more slowly by signing fewer top flight recruits for 2012 would have taken big cojones but it would have been the right thing to do. We'll see how this thing shakes out.
Kelvin Sampson was corrupt; let's see what Tom Crean is made of.
Chris Low, ESPN's SEC Blogger, was recently asked if he thought anything would come of the recent movement to have oversigning banned.
We'll find out a lot more at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., but I can tell you that a number of SEC coaches have made it clear to their ADs and to SEC commissioner Mike Slive that managing numbers in terms of scholarships has been one of the best things the SEC has done in football and a big reason the league has had so much success. In other words, the coaches will fight any kind of hard cap (similar to what the Big Ten does)in a big way.
We'll see what happens in Destin, should be interesting. Mike Slive has a real opportunity to step up and be forever known as the man who ended oversigning in the SEC, something no one has been able to do for 40 years.
Perhaps without them he would be playing golf instead of pulling scholarship offers at the last minute.
But hey, time heals all wounds, right? Are academics in South Carolina really that piss poor?
Hope Mike Slive is proud.
Things are starting to heat back up a little on the oversigning topic. The last few weeks have been slow, but with the conference meetings coming soon, as well as the forced attrition to clear roster space via medical hardships, grayshirts, and coerced transfers to lower tier programs, we will start to see a lot more news on the oversigning front.
Will Muschamp got things going today during a teleconference with all 12 SEC head coaches when he had this to say when asked about oversigning and grayshirting:
Muschamp also addressed the oversigning and grayshirting of athletes that has become a recent subject of concern in some areas.
"I think there is some gray area involved with all of it," he said."Now, you're able to sign players back (previous year) as long as you're under your 85 (scholarship) total. So does that count against the 28 you signed in February? Right now it doesn't.
"Again, at Florida, we don't grayshirt. That's not something that we do; it's not a policy of ours. We don't place students; that's not a policy of ours. That's not something that I'm going to cross that bridge on right now because it's not something that we do or is part of what we're going to do."
Wonder what Huston Nutt, Les Miles, and Nick Saban had so say to that during the conference call? Kudos to Muschamp for going public with their policy on signing and placing and grayshirting, and Kudos to Florida for making it a policy (not sure if that is an actual written policy or not) not to exploit these two loopholes in the system.
Mike Slive took a few minutes to answer questions about the upcoming annual conference meetings and as expected the topic of oversigning came up during the conversation (see below). The million dollar question is which athletic directors are in the group that is studying the oversigning issue??? Will Georgia and Florida have enough pull to force the rest of the conference athletic directors to seriously address the oversigning issue or will it be another round of window dressing with another toothless rule named after a coach? Or, will the SEC shock the world and come up with a set of conference rules that are the toughest in the country on oversigning and grayshirting?
Q: Will the SEC re-examine its rule, which has now become an NCAA rule, setting a limit of 28 football signees per class? Do you believe it has adequately addressed the issue of oversigning or does it need to be toughened, possibly even looking to the Big Ten model (which allows its football programs to sign only three over the number of scholarships it has available under the 85 limit)?
A: I don't think there's any particular model out there that we would care to emulate, but we're going to take a look at all these issues. It's more than just the question of oversigning. It's a question of looking at all these issues that comprise how teams develop their ultimate roster. We have put together a group of our athletic directors who have been working on this now for several months and we anticipate looking at their report in Destin, when we do our business. We expect the First Amendment to be alive and well in Destin and I actually anticipate that we would do something more than we have done up to now.
There are a lot of things that go with it -- the question of oversigning, the question of grayshirting, the question of early admission, the question of pre-enrollment in summer school. We are working to take a very comprehensive look at all the different elements, not just the one issue of oversigning.
This is somewhat old news, but Marquavius Burnett at The Crimson and White just wrote a nice article about the situation at Alabama regarding their refusal to disclose scholarship numbers, including an image of the document where Alabama blacks out the scholarship numbers in their annual report. Alabama officials are saying that federal privacy laws prevent them from disclosing the number of scholarships, but law experts disagree and question why the schools that do release this information are not in violation of the federal privacy laws.
From the article:
Deborah Lane, and assistant vice president for University Relations, said in an emailed statement that privacy laws prohibit them from disclosing scholarship numbers because they can be used by a reasonable person to find out personal information about individual students.
But law experts disagree.
“This information is not confidential,” said Frank LoMonte, the executive director of the Student Press Law Center. “In fact, Alabama routinely announces the names of star athletes it has signed to scholarships…. Other schools are comfortable releasing the numbers. There is no practical way that you could match up the number of scholarships with particular athletes and, even if you could, it would not compromise any private information.”
It is really unclear as to why these numbers are being hidden. Cecil Hurt at the Tuscaloosa News has filed a Freedom of Information Act request in order to try and obtain the official scholarship numbers, hopefully he will hear something soon so we can get this all cleared up.
The irony in all of this is that Alabama goes out of its way to have a fax cam streaming video of the recruits names as their faxed LOI to receive a scholarship comes in on national signing day.
The article goes on to cite the Wall Street Journal article on Alabama's oversigning:
The entire SEC, especially Alabama, has been under fire recently for oversigning in football. Under NCAA rules, it is legal to sign more players to scholarships than the limit of 85 as long as teams are not over that limit by July 31. However, The Wall Street Journal reported in September of 2010 that former Alabama players said the school tried to gain a competitive edge by encouraging underperforming players to quit the team, allowing the Tide to not exceed the limit of 85 scholarships per season.
Because the deadline to get down to 85 football scholarships is July 31, when 2010 expense reports were filed, it would not have been a violation to be over the limit of 85. In fact, LSU and Mississippi’s 2010 athletic expense reports show the schools had 91 and 89 scholarships, respectively, allotted to football when the reports were filed.
As you might know, I recently launched two brand new advocacy sites/blogs, Parents of Players and Reform the NCAA. For quite some time as Oversigning.com has grown, Joshua and I have been discussing whether we should broaden our focus to cover many other (and far more serious) examples of exploitation of high school and college players.
One way is to have separate and distinct web sites/blogs for each problem/exploitation (that's the road we're on right at this minute). The other way would be to transform Oversigning.com into Oversigning & More.com. We could have a navigation bar at the top of the page with tabs for Oversigning, Truth in Recruiting, Academic Problems, Money Problems, Player Attrition, etc. Clicking one of these tabs would take you to a blog focused on the specific problem area. The benefit of this approach would be that it make it easy for highly interested people (like you) to stay informed on a wide range of NCAA problems & suggested reforms without putting a bunch of sites in your Favorites/Bookmarks.
From a business standpoint, this would enable us to aggregate our traffic and perhaps one day put us over the top in page views so that we might be able to begin covering our operating costs with a few inobtrusive ads. If things got really cranking we could afford to begin paying some talented writers to research and write highly professional pieces on each problem topic.
Last night I had this amazing epiphany (for you guys from Mississippi that means the light bulb went on. Whoa, don't get pissed off, I'm just kidding around!). My bright idea is this: Why not ask the passionate people on Oversigning.com what they think.
So, I'm asking. No holds barred. Tell us what you think. And if you'd like to nominate yourself to research & write on a topic please send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Thanks!
In a very well written article by Tim Twentyman, the SEC's Associate Commissioner, Greg Sankey admits the practice of grayshirting by some of his member schools is not appropriate. Our position all along has been that for a coach to go out and offer a ton of kids and tell them all that they might have to grayshirt depending on how things work out on signing day is fraudulent, at best. It is nothing more than a tactic to string kids along and keep them away from competing schools and offers no guarantee of a scholarship; there is a reason why the NLI's Susan Peal doesn't support grayshirting.
The SEC's Sankey admits that the practice of grayshirting by some of his member schools is "not appropriate" and says the SEC is considering adopting stricter measures on how recruits are counted.
"This year, we saw a couple circumstances where there was really late notice to student-athletes about programs' desire for them to defer enrollment," Sankey said. "Those circumstances are not appropriate. We don't want to see that type of thing happen.
"Part of the discussion is, 'Is there a way to manage grayshirting that should be out in front of folks?' In a similar way, should we be managing early-enrollment issues in a different way? All of those things mix into this discussion and that's why it takes some time to do some analysis to figure out some reasonable solution for our conference. We've been after this issue since the fall and we have an annual meeting in late May and early June, and I'd expect some potential solutions would be considered."
The article also includes quotes from several coaches, other conference officials, and recruited players who admit they had no idea what oversigning was until someone told them about it.
Madison Heights Madison defensive back Valdez Showers, who signed with Florida in February, said he never once thought about oversigning during his recruitment. He didn't even know such a thing was allowed.
"All I looked at was how many people they signed at my position," he said. "I never really thought about oversigning and I can tell you by experience that recruits aren't really looking at that, either."
Showers did say he was going to make sure future recruits at his high school are aware of the practice and ask the right questions during their recruitment — especially when dealing with some SEC schools.
"I think (oversigning) is real immature and unprofessional by a coach," Showers said. "Why would he recruit this many guys knowing that he's going to mess up another kid's chance of getting another scholarship from another school? I think recruits should start looking at that now."
Saginaw's DeAnthony Arnett, who'll also play in the SEC next season for Tennessee, said he didn't have to worry about having a spot on the team, due to his stature in the recruiting rankings. He is ranked the No. 8 receiver in the country by Scout.com and the No. 12 receiver by Rivals.com. But he said he could empathize with those players that find out too late to do anything about the fact that they are no longer wanted on campus in the fall.
"Some schools like oversigning kids and then giving them grayshirts or telling them to leave, which is wrong," he said. "Whatever your maximum is, that's how many you should be able to sign and not go over that."
Michigan State's Mark Dantonio says that they have never had to tell a kid that he doesn't have a scholarship; he also believes in Jim Tressel's method of giving open scholarships after the spring and summer natural attrition to deserving walk-on players who have earned a scholarship reward.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio told The Detroit News that he's never had to tell one of his players that his scholarship no longer exists, and can't imaging having to do so. But Dantonio added that he has to protect his program, which can be accomplished with moderate oversigning.
"My feeling is that as a program, you sign what you think you're going to have, and then there are always opportunities for a non-scholarship player — who's really played himself into a position to play — award him a scholarship, which we've been able to do every single year," Dantonio said.
To be clear, when reading these articles and talking about oversigning, you have to remember that there are two kinds of oversigning: signing more than 85 and signing more than 25. In many cases, like the quote above by Dantonio, coaches are referring to oversigning the 25 not the 85. For example, if a school has 57 returning players on scholarship, they can take on 28 to get to 85, however, 28 is over the 25 limit for a given year. What happens is that 3 of the 28 enroll early and count towards the previous year, then the remaining 25 enroll in the current year and count towards the current class. Therefore, despite going over the 25 limit, the school did not go over the 85 limit. This is what the Big 10 rule of going over by 3 is really there for; not so much to enable schools to abusively go over the 85 limit every year, which in talking to Chad Hawley simply doesn't happen. Our issue has always been going over the 85 because when that happens cuts have to be made; you can go over the 25 and not have to cut anyone as long as there is room in the previous class and guys enroll early.
We encourage you to read the rest of the article and discuss in the comments section. It's amazing that kids today, despite all of the talk in the media and everyone on the Internet, do not know what oversigning is or that it is allowed. Marc's proposal for Truth in Recruiting would definitely eliminate this problem.
Updated: Added quote from Mark Dantonio and commentary on the Big 10 rule for oversigning.
We are very pleased to finally announce that Marc Bailey, a former player at Indiana University, has joined our efforts here at Oversigning.com and will be handling various responsibilities, including business development and public relations. Marc is also going to assist us in finding writers for the site and seek out former players that have been wronged by teams that oversign and help us tell their story.
Marc is an amazing individual and we are really excited about his involvement here and what he brings to the table. Diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer in 2004, Marc was given very little chance to survive. However, thanks to radical treatment and the grace of God, Marc survived his battle with cancer and is now cancer free! In fact, when meeting Marc in person you would never know that he was a cancer survivor. In his professional career, prior to retirement, Marc worked as a turnaround manager in the software industry and has been involved in the publishing industry for 25 years.
With a lifelong background in sports, which includes his time as a player at Indiana, his masters degree in Sports Management at Ohio University where he was classmates with Florida AD Jeremy Foley, and the 40+ years he spent involved in sports outside of his professional career, which included working on projects like Hoosier for Life at Indiana and membership on the board at The Drake Group, Marc has decided now that he is retired that he wants to pursue his passion of player advocacy and NCAA reform. Marc is a true, fire-breathing reformer! Having been directly involved in college football, both in his time at Indiana and while his son was being recruited by several schools (he finally ended up playing at Georgia Tech after two bad experiences at other schools), Marc has been exposed to the inner-workings of the collegiate "amateur" model and the lies and player exploitation that takes place, and he has decided to make it his life's mission to do what he can to change the way the game is played.
In addition to his new role here, Marc has started two new initiatives: Parents of Players Association and Reform the NCAA which we hope to be heavily involved in once our work here on oversigning is complete. We strongly recommend you read the Facts of Life page on the POPA site.
This morning, Jon Solomon, who has done some great reporting on the oversigning topic, wrote a spotlight piece on Marc in The Beaufort Gazette.
Update: A similar piece is up on al.com: http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/04/college_athletes_rights_who_fi.html
Marc Bailey is cancer-free, itching for a fight and willing to team up. Bailey, the Drake Group and Ramogi Huma's NCPA have discussed closely affiliating their reform initiatives.
Once a turnaround manager in the software industry, Bailey believes his goals can be helped by associating with a community organizer such as Huma. Bailey wants to get parents to share their stories anonymously on the Parents of Players Association website.
If you are a parent of a player and you think your son or the son of someone you know is being exploited in any way including being a victim of oversigning -- perhaps your son lost his scholarship because a coach oversigned his roster and had to make cuts in order to stay under the 85 limit -- please contact Marc: firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear your story and share it with our readers to help force the NCAA and their member Universities to clean up the player exploitation and on this site, specifically the oversigning issue.
If you are a writer/blogger/journalist looking to investigate and write on this topic and others related, please contact Marc.
Thanks again to our readers, we are certain that Marc is going to be instrumental in our ability to dig deeper on the topic of oversigning and bring out more of the stories that have been left untold by the players and their parents.
Alabama had 12 scholarship players leave the team (8 to graduation, 3 juniors to the NFL, and 1 transfer prior to signing day) last year; Alabama also signed 23 new players (22 on signing day and now Duron Carter) and had 2 players greyshirt last year that now count towards this class; this puts them at 25 new players this year. On NSD, Nick Saban told the media that they signed what they could, implying they had room for 22 + 2 GS, and that they could add another player later because there were candidates for medical hardships or redshirt guys that have graduated that could be replaced. To date there have been no announcements regarding any departures, but there have been plenty of names floated around as possible candidates.
As we mentioned a month ago, the numbers just don't jive. If you have 12 scholarship players leave but add 25 new scholarship players, the only way you have room for them all is if you finished the previous season with 72 scholarship players. 72 - 12=60, 60 + 25=85.
Does anyone believe that Alabama had only 72 scholarship players last year? If that was the case, then why the 2 greyshirts last year because there wasn't room -- if you are at 72 scholarship players why in the world would you greyshirt 2? The only viable reason would be the 25 limit, but Alabama had a handful of guys last year that enrolled early and counted toward the previous year, so there should have been room. Furthermore, Alabama had a bunch of attrition last year -- we examined their roster prior to signing day and projected the number of guys they needed to lose in order to get to 85 and that was the exact number of guys they lost during the spring and summer -- so if they weren't making roster cuts to get to 85 there should have been room for the two that greyshirted last year.
We are being a little coy here, we know they didn't have 72 guys on scholarship to end the season last year. The reality is that they are over right now, and the medical hardship, transfers and non-renewals should start to emerge soon.
With spring practice in full swing, shouldn't anyone that is injured to the point that they can no longer participate already be on medical hardship? Maybe there are guys that are not participating in practice right now, not sure.
All of these questions could be answered if Alabama didn't withhold their scholarship numbers information from the media, something no school should be doing. Cecil Hurt with the Tuscaloosa News is working on this and has filed Freedom of Information requests in an effort to get scholarship numbers from the University, which is bizarre when you consider Alabama is one of the few programs around the country that runs a web cam on national signing day so that everyone can see the signed letters of intent as they come in; each time one comes in the school posts the name of the player on the fax machine so everyone can see it. Why would you go out of your way to broadcast that information yet withhold scholarship numbers from the media when asked for them?
@TheMarchTo85 I promise we are using every FOI avenue available.
We have asked Cecil Hurt to simply ask Saban if they have room for everyone right now and from this point forward if anyone leaves will it result in Alabama starting the season under the 85 limit. Those are questions that A.) should be asked, and B.) Saban should be able to answer. To his credit, Hurt acknowledged our request and stated that he would follow up with Saban this week and ask questions.