Details of the new SEC legislation proposed by Mike Slive are starting to come out. The Athens Banner-Herald has obtained a copy of the new legislation aimed to curb some of the abuses that have been rampant in the SEC over the last several years. Actually, these abuses have been taking place as far back as Bobby Dodd's time in the 1960's when GT was a member of the SEC before leaving the conference because the conference refused to address the roster management issues and oversigning. Here is what has been made available to the public:
- Limiting the size of a football signing class in each academic year to 25, down from the current level of 28. The 25 limit would cover those who sign from Dec. 1 to August 1.
- Making football signees who attend summer school on athletic aid before the fall semester count against a school's scholarship numbers for that next academic year.
- Giving the SEC office more oversight in medical scholarship exemptions to review and determine outcome for cases. A team doctor, trainer and athletic director would need to sign off on each case.
- Keeping early enrollees from signing an SEC financial aid agreement until they are enrolled and attend class at the school. Currently, recruits can begin to sign a financial aid agreement after their junior year of high school, which keeps other SEC schools from recruiting them.http://staugustine.com/sports/2011-05-24/oversigning-secs-football-priority
This is definitely a comprehensive package covering more areas than just oversigning, but the proposed legislation that addresses oversigning is still lacking and does not address the root of the oversigning issue. The current SEC rules allow for 28 recruits to be signed between February and May 31st; the new rule is 25 between December 1 and August 1. Neither of them address the 85 limit, which is the core issue.
This is nothing more than more window dressing, unfortunately. Slive and the SEC are still hung up on the annual signing numbers and the 25 limit for an incoming class. The root of the oversigning problem is the 85 limit, not the 25 annual limit. What good is a limit set at 25 when a school only has 16 scholarship spaces available??? It is worthless at stopping oversigning.
The current Big 10 rules are based on the 85 scholarship limit first, then the 25 annual limit. If a Big 10 school has 16 scholarships available, they can accept up to 19 signed letters of intent, but there's a catch. The school has to petition the Big 10 office for permission to accept those 3 extra signed letters of intent and they have to explain why they are going over. But there's more, before they petition to accept the oversigned letter of intent, they have to petition for permission to issue a written offer that is over the 85 limit. That's right, the Big 10 office controls the number of offers the school can issue and just like the number of signed letters of intent a school can accept, Big 10 schools are only allowed to offer 3 more scholarships than they have room for under the 85 limit. So despite the NCAA allowing a school to sign and bring in 25 new players each year, if a Big 10 school has room for 16 new recruits the most they will be allowed is 19 by the Big 10 office and the three extra have to be documents.
If you think those rules are tough, prior to 2002 there was no waiver to go over the 85 limit. That changed when in 2002, Gerry DiNardo, having spent time coaching at LSU and realizing the advantage of oversigning, was hired at Indiana where he inherited a repeated roster and started lobbying for the oversigning waiver. DiNardo got his wish and the oversigning waiver was accepted into the Big 10 rules, but he was later fired from Indiana after a few years and never being able to turn the program around.
The net result of the Big 10 measures on oversigning is that there is very little oversigning in the Big 10. Associate Commissioner, Chad Hawley, says that despite the option to oversign by 3 that very seldom do schools petition for the oversigning waiver. In fact, according to Hawley, only 1 Big 10 school oversigned this year.
The bottom line is that this appears to be just more window dressing -- Slive is reducing the number from 28 to 25, but he is increasing the window from Dec 1. to August 1. His legislation, at the end of the day, does not address the root of the problem, going over the 85 limit, and any legislation that does not address the potential for a coach to sign 8-10 guys over the 85 limit is severely lacking. Scholarship and roster numbers fluctuate every year, some years a school will have room for 25 other years they will have room for 16, the rules on signing players need to work in accordance with that fluctuation.
We'll have more on the rest later.