Adam Krohn of the Gainesville (Ga.) Times has spent the past few months speaking with major players in the game of college football in regards to oversigning.
Highlights include interviews with Big Ten associate commissioner for compliance Chad Hawley, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity, NCAA official Cameron Schuh, and a high school prospect who turned down an offer from Ole Miss. and local high school coaches also weigh in on the issue.
The story will hit the Web on July 16.
Marc has the details over at www.parentsofplayers.com regarding this great breakthrough in recruiting reform.
In a major breakthrough for what POPA calls Truth in Recruiting, the Connecticut House of Representatives has unanimously passed House Bill #5415, a state law that requires Connecticut colleges and universities to disclosure crucial facts about the scholarship it is offering to prospective student-athletes. Bill #5415, which is law effective January 1, 2012, instantly makes Connecticut the most player-friendly state in the USA.
Under the new law, any institution with an intercollegiate athletic program that recruits student athletes by soliciting them to apply to, enroll in, or attend the institution for the purpose of participating in intercollegiate athletics must provide on the front page of its official athletic website a hyperlink to a page entitled “Student Athletes’ Right to Know.” This web page address must be included in any written materials provided by recruiters to prospective student athletes.
Item number 4 stipulates that schools must post on their athletic website if they practice oversigning.
4) the institution’s policy on signing more recruited student athletes than there are available scholarships and how that affects scholarship opportunities for recruited and current student athletes.
Hopefully one day there won't be a need for item 4, but in the meantime this is great for the kids of Connecticut and a great win for those who are working hard to reform college athletics.
POPA believes this new Connecticut law takes a major step in requiring college sports recruiters to disclose many of the facts about athletic scholarships that parents of players use to choose the best school for their son. We hope other states will follow Connecticut’s lead. The next major step will be to pass an amendment to Bill #5415 that requires the same level of disclosure on academic performance and academic policies by schools.
Update: Senator Blutarsky at the Get The Picture blog with a take on the new legislation and how he feels it was watered down some before going through. http://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/always-read-the-fine-print-part-two/ He's right, there were some slight changes to the Bill before it passed and it could have had more teeth, but given that this was one of the first Bill's of its kind it is still a positive step in the right direction. Maybe we can get Marc back to comment on the changes to the Bill and what is on the horizon to further develop the legislation and have similar Bills passed in other states.
Now that the SEC has acknowledged that A.) they have a problem with oversigning and it needs to be addressed, and B.) they want to see national signing rules implemented so that they don't lose a competitive advantage to schools that currently have less restrictive rules (such as the B12), let's discuss a new set of national rules. What is the best solution for a new set of national rules that address the three main components of scholarship signing legislation, in order of importance:
1. Student-Athlete welfare. Prohibiting exploitation of the student-athlete. This needs to protect student-athletes both at the front-end (guys being recruited and signed) and at the back-end (guys already on the roster from being pushed out).
2. Utilization of scholarship opportunities. Ensures that educational opportunities are maximized and not wasted. Giving someone a scholarship who could care less about the education they are receiving is not maximizing scholarship opportunities, it is wasting them. The hard fact of the matter is that only a very, very small percentage (roughly 3%) of college football players will ever realize a career in the NFL. The scholarships that are given out to kids who only care about football, yet never make it to a meaningful career in the NFL are a complete waste of the scholarship opportunity. It would be like giving someone a scholarship to become a chemical engineer yet they never become a chemical engineer, what's the point? There is no debate on that. Giving scholarships to kids that can play at the college level, but are just as interested, if not more, in the education they are receiving and life after football is how you maximize a scholarship opportunity. Not on someone majoring in eligibility in hopes of striking it rich in the NFL. Tto be frank, that is wasting a scholarship opportunity and gaming the system by the student-athlete.
3. Competitive equality amongst conferences. Regulating the number of players that can be signed so that all conferences are signing the same number of recruits. There is currently a massive gap between what the SEC signs and what other conferences sign, especially the Big 10.
The current NCAA national rule ("The 28 Rule") is completely ineffective. The SEC's proposal of a new "soft cap" of 25 per year is also ineffective, primarily because it still does not prevent a school with 16 openings from signing 25 and going over by 9. If student-athlete welfare is the number 1 priority then this loophole must be closed, period. There is no need in allowing it to happen at all because it opens the door for abuse.
Summary of proposal:
1. Set January 15th as the deadline for coaches to report their recruiting budget. Have players leaving for the NFL, transfers, and non-renewals by the coaching staff all declared on January 15th. Make the number of openings public and approved by a national clearinghouse (see 2).
2. Create a clearinghouse for transfers and non-renewals that provides due process to the student-athlete to ensure that the student athlete was not pushed into the decision to transfer and provide the student-athlete a review hearing for non-renewals. There is plenty of room for reform in this area, such as eliminating lack of living up to perceived recruiting potential as a cause for termination or changing the sit out rules. Have a national panel establish the guidelines for non-renewal and have them in writing so that the SA knows exactly what can cause him to lose his scholarship. Terminating a scholarship without cause should be eliminated.
3. Eliminate a hard cap on annual signing numbers. On National Signing Day, whatever room the school is cleared to have via the clearinghouse, by way of declaring early departures to the NFL, transfers, and non-renewals by January 15th, is the room they get to fill with new recruits. This number would be based on 85 as the max number of current scholarship players and signed letters of intent. If that number is 29 and the openings come based on natural matriculation and attrition that is cleared through a national clearinghouse, then so be it, the school can sign 29 in order to get to 85. If necessary, you could put a hard cap of 35 on the annual limit if you felt you just had to have one as a safety net, but we believe a school should be able to sign whatever they naturally have room for so long as they stay under the 85 limit at all times and so long as the number of recruits they can sign is cleared through a national clearinghouse.
4. Eliminate back counting. Every year each school should have a full 85 man roster of scholarship players and there should be no need to try and squeeze guys in by back counting and getting them to enroll early.
5. Limit and standardize greyshirting. Allow a maximum of 2 greyshirt signees per year. Standardize the greyshirt offer and have it as a separate offer with specific terms in writing that the SA understands and agrees to in writing in February. This will eliminate last minute greyshirts after a kid has been on campus in the summer working out with the team. Those only come because of oversigning and space issues. Greyshirts should be for injured players or guys that need a year to develop or grow and are willing to wait until the next year when there is space under the 85 limit. Those offers should be guaranteed spots in the next class and factor into the budget number created on January 15th.
6. Maximize scholarship opportunities by giving any shortfall to walk-on players. By giving coaches the ability to sign as many players as they have room for under the 85 limit gives them ample opportunity to fill every roster spot and at no time would they have to tell a kid, "we'd love to have you, we have room under the 85 limit, but we can only take 25 a year." It's on the coaches to make the most of those opportunities. Any remaining openings that occur out of the ordinary, say a kid gets arrested in late July and his spot can't be filled through recruiting, coaches can give those scholarships to worthy walk-on players who would truly maximize the educational opportunity they would be receiving. Those guys are headed on to life after football and a free year of education as a send off after 4-5 years of dedication is the perfect use of a scholarship some knucklehead lost because he was arrested.
You could drill into each one of these points and tweak things here and there, but at the end of the day, you have to base the number of kids you can sign on the number of openings under the 85 roster limit. You have to eliminate the possibility of a school singing 25 guys when they only have 16 openings under the 85 limit. This leads to the opportunity for abuse and exploitation by forcing kids into bogus medical hardships, late greyshirts, and transfers to FCS, Juco, or CC. You also have to make sure the school can fill all of its scholarship spots under the 85 limit so that they don't have to turn kids away because they don't have room under the 25 limit. Lastly, you have to make sure the attrition is cleared through a clearinghouse process which includes an opportunity for a review hearing and an exit interview so that the kids that feel they are being pushed out have somewhere to turn before they just accept transferring down to Juco, etc.
To: Petey, Corey, and Others,
If you have not yet finalized your transfer plans, we would like to strongly recommend to you that you contact Marc Bailey at www.parentsofplayers.com to discuss your rights under by-law 18.104.22.168. Marc is experienced in negotiating fair treatment for players looking to transfer, being forced to transfer, or just flat not being renewed, and he might be able to negotiate with your coaches to sign a "sit out waiver" so that you can continue to pursue your football and educational interests at the FBS level instead of going to JUCO or FCS.
Please consider talking to Marc, he's a former player that understands the difficult and life-altering decisions you have to make at this crucial time in your life, and he also knows about all the tricks coaches are going to use on you to encourage you to transfer out of their program so they can get their roster down to 85 players by August. You have absolutely nothing to lose by spending 10 minutes on the phone with him and he might be able to help you land at another SEC school or another FBS school, especially if you feel as though your transfer was encouraged in any way. If you don't feel comfortable in talking to Marc, ask your high school coach to contact him.
Whether you know it or not, this is the time of year coaches purge their rosters to get down to the 85 limit. Many student-athletes such as yourself often times find themselves in a numbers crunch and are encouraged to look at options they wouldn't normally look at on their own. We don't know everything about your situations, but we know several others that have been encouraged to seek playing time elsewhere in order for a coach to get his roster down to 85. This often times happens when a coach oversigns a roster and brings in someone he thinks is better. Typically the coach will keep everyone through the spring, despite knowing there wont' be room for everyone in the fall, work everyone through the spring, and then after spring ball and evaluating the players he will tell certain players that they won't get playing time because they are buried in the depth chart (a chart that is oversigned always means someone has to go). If this is the case, you have rights and you should not be encouraged to downgrade your collegiate career so that a coach can get his numbers down before the deadline in August because he oversigned in February.
To any student-athletes that feel they are being pushed or encouraged to transfer: you too should contact Marc and allow him to help you navigate the complicated waters of by-law 22.214.171.124. Under this by-law, the NCAA suggests that the student-athlete have an advocate while going through the non-renewal process of your scholarship which leads to the release so that you can transfer. Your parents or guardians are most likely not equipped to handle this, Marc is.
Suggestions for who should be involved:
a. Financial aid office (NOTE: NCAA legislation requires an institution's regular financial aid authority to notify the student-athlete in writing of the opportunity for a hearing).
b. Financial aid hearing/appeals committee.
c. Athletics department.
f. Advocate for the student-athlete (e.g., parent, legal guardian, immediate family member).
Monday morning, Big 10 Conference Commissioner, Jim Delany, is scheduled to hold a press conference and announce that the Big 10 Conference is going to back to their pre-2002 rules on oversigning which bans the practice completely by working with a hard cap of 85, and he is going to demand that the NCAA make it a national rule.
Okay, he's not going to do that, but imagine if he did! Imagine the outrage around the country, especially down in SEC country if Jim Delany tried to do what Mike Slive just did, which was to push his rules on others by trying to make them national rules.
The pre-2002 rules in the Big 10 were originally created in 1956 and completely banned oversigning by limiting coaches to only being allowed to offer and accept as many scholarships as they had available under the annual maximum roster limit, in present day it is 85. So for example, if a school had 16 scholarship openings come National Signing Day, they could offer and receive 16 signed letters of intent for new scholarships, not 37 Houston Nutt, 16. Talk about making it hard on coaches. Talk about working at a competitive disadvantage. But they did it and they did it 50+ years ago because it was the right thing to do, regardless of what other conferences were doing.
Our overall take on the situation:
This proposal was a reaction to all of the bad publicity (which to be honest started right here at oversigning.com), and while it does attempt to curb some of the excesses it does not address the core issue of oversigning, which is preventing schools from signing over the 85 limit. Ridding a conference of the abuses that place because of oversigning is a process that requires building a culture throughout all of the conference sports; clearly the legislation that was passed today does NOTHING to address oversigning in baseball which is just as bad, if not worse than football, and proves that if the SEC University Presidents truly believe in what they say about oversigning and its morally reprehensible actions they would not tolerate it in baseball. Baseball was never addressed by the SEC because we never addressed it here, well we did once, but that was a long time ago.
You see while they have been playing checkers by floating out a Red Herring with their 25-28 rules, we have been playing chess by getting them to admit that oversigning is wrong, morally reprehensible, and not to be tolerated in college athletics. Eliminating exploitation through oversigning is a cultural and ethical decision, and if you don't believe in it then you put things in place to eliminate it everywhere in your athletic programs. SEC officials told the world today that they don't believe in it, yet they never addressed it in regards to baseball, and that is because we never attacked it here and there was no bad publicity regarding oversigning in baseball. There is no argument that can be made against that statement. Their move today was based on bad publicity, not a desire to rid the conference of a culture of oversigning and exploitation.
Update: The main point we were trying to make here is that the new "roster management" legislation is the result of bad publicity, not because the SEC administrators woke up one morning and decided to reshape the conference's philosophy on oversigning and player exploitation. Although we started the ball rolling in a major way by launching this site, it took national and local sports writers, ESPN's OTL, bloggers, sports-talk radio hosts, fans posting on message boards, and a lot of other people to make this happen.
Another tactical error on the SEC's part today was demanding that the NCAA institute their new oversigning rule nationwide. This opens a whole new can of worms. Just like the SEC would not allow the Big 10 rule to be pushed on them, the Big 10 should not allow the SEC to raise the bar nationally to allow more oversigning than the Big 10 currently allows under their rules that address the 85 limit. This is the first step in getting the NCAA to the table and to start discussions about true national, NCAA rules on oversigning.
It is our hope they can find a happy medium that first addresses and eliminates the exploitation and morally reprehensible actions, and secondly creates a completely level playing field where every conference is signing players the same way. It's going to be a tough task, but with everyone at the table it can be done. Had the Big 10 pushed for this it would have been rejected because no one would want their ultra restrictive rules pushed on them, but by Slive, out of fear that they might lose their competitive advantage, demanding that the NCAA adopt their new rules nationally, he has opened the door for more substantive discussion. Surely the SEC doesn't think it is going to do what it wouldn't allow the Big 10 to do, push its rules on everyone else, right?
From here on out we'll be focusing on the national discussion to come up with new national rules for oversigning, rules that won't allow what these will when a school has 16 openings and can still sign 25 guys and cut 9, but instead provides for fair and equitable treatment for the players and competitive equality for the schools and conferences.
We're probably going to start talking about oversigning in baseball now too.
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.