We ran a search on the most powerful search engines in the world for the following string "what is a medical hardship scholarship" in hopes of learning more about this mysterious scholarship that injured football players are being awarded in lieu of their football scholarship. The only thing we found that was related to football were links to articles about two different schools, Alabama and North Carolina.
One article we found, regarding how Butch Davis magically converted 12 roster openings into 24 and 29 scholarship commitments into 24, shows that Davis put 3 players on medical hardship in a single season.
"Butch Davis promised it would work out.
With Angelo Hadley's exit from the UNC football program before he got there, the Tar Heels coach was right. His over-recruiting strategy balanced out in the end.
What was once a 17-scholarship discrepancy is likely to work out to an even 24 signees to 24 available scholarships.
Rewind to December — UNC had 29 commitments with 12 seniors departing the program."
The rest of the article goes on to explain exactly how 12 scholarship slots turned into 24. Basically, 4 players graduated with a year of eligibility left but were not given a renewal of their scholarships, 3 players were given a medical hardship scholarship (we still don't know what that means, who controls it, who monitors it, etc), 4 players were dismissed from the team, and 1 player left early for the NFL.
Kind of ironic that Nick Saban and Butch Davis are considered two of the best recruiters in the country, despite their long list of kids that have been cut from their teams or placed on medical hardship scholarships.
A reader from the original article is calling BS on UNC's use of medical hardship scholarships:
"14 kids have left the UNC football team since 2002 due to medical reasons. 14!!!!!!! How are all these kids getting hurt so badly to have career ending injuries? A lot of these aren't even during games. As the poster said above, that's just slime ball tactics. You tell a kid who's not that great that if he keeps his mouth shut, he still gets school paid for. Not saying that all cases are the same, but 14?? My God.
What about that world renowned hospital right beside the stadium?
And for comparison's sake - even with the ridiculous injuries NC State has had in recent years (Remember when they had < 60 scholarship players available to play last year at one point due to injuries??), students have received 2 medical hardships since 2002.
14 >> 2."
He's right, what kid in his right mind would turn down a free ride just to leave the team, especially if he is either injury prone or not good enough to see the field. To guys like Nick Saban and Butch Davis this is like the holy grail to solving roster issues and helping make room for all those players they oversign without facing APR issues; because you see, if a player remains in school and makes progress toward his degree, then the school is safe. Without APR would these kids get medical scholarships or would they be kicked to the curb, or would they have to remain on football scholarship until they finish school and just do what they can to help the team and earn their degree?
As we predicted immediately after signing day and before spring practice, Saban is going to have to cut players, again, for the third year in a row, in order to get down to NCAA limit of 85. If you are new here go read this, then read this, and lastly read this.
For those of you too lazy to read all that, just read this: Alabama returned 66 scholarship players after last season, signed 29 new recruits to letters of intent, and now must shed 10 players between signing day and the first day of fall camp in order to stay under the mandated 85 scholarship limit. Terry Grant and Travis Spikes have already left the team.
To help track the 10 bodies that need to go we have created a table for them.
2010 The March to 85 - Alabama
|Player||Position||Reason for leaving after NSD|
|Terry Grant||Running Back||Scholarship not renewed|
|Travis Sikes||Wide Receiver||Scholarship not renewed|
|Rod Woodson||Safety||Scholarship not renewed|
|Star Jackson||Quarterback||Transfer, Georgia State Div 1AA.|
|Deion Belue||Defensive Back||Academically Ineligible; headed to JUCO|
|Alfy Hill||Linebacker||Academically Ineligible; future unknown|
|Taylor Pharr||Offensive Lineman||Medical Hardship|
|Milton Talbert||Linebacker||Medical Hardship|
|Darius McKeller||Offensive Lineman||Medical Hardship|
|Ronnie Carswell||Wide Receiver||Greyshirt|
|Wilson Love||Defensive End||Greyshirt|
The latest addition is Darius McKeller. Here is Saban's comment on Darius:
"Our medical staff thought that he would be at severe risk of injuring it again if he continued to play."
Click the link to continue reading >>>
If you haven't read the news, Michael over at Braves & Birds - The Atlanta Sports Blog has been reading our site and decided to write an essay on the topic of oversigning and the nature of our website. Michael is an Attorney from Atlanta, Georgia, we on the other had are not attorneys (we didn't even sleep at a Holiday Inn, but we're going to give this a go anyways), but we did we bounce emails back and forth with Michael and he seems like a personable guy, not to mention he has been blogging since we were in diapers.
So let's take a look at the article.
"I've been reading Oversigning.com over the past few weeks and enjoying the discussion. The authors there take a much harder line on oversigning than I would and at times, their writing devolves into unhinged attacks on the SEC from every angle. (Comparing endowments? Really?) In those instances, they come across as excuse-making Big Ten fans who want to justify the fact that SEC teams have won more national titles in the past four years than Big Ten teams have won in the last forty."
Yeah, we're pretty hardcore on the topic of oversigning. People write about it from time to time, especially during the off-season and around signing day, but we are the first and only website completely dedicated to the topic. Why? Two reasons: 1.) During the 2007 during the National Championship game, we saw a graphic that showed the number of players signed in each of LSU's and Ohio State's previous 5 recruiting classes: LSU 28, 26, 13, 26, and 26 = 119 and Ohio State 16, 24, 18, 20, and 15 = 93. A difference of 26 players, or essentially an entire recruiting class. That raised an eyebrow. It was the first time we could remember a broadcast ever showing those kind of numbers. 2.) A couple of months later we saw Nick Saban on ESPN battling it out with a local sports reporter over his recruiting numbers which led us to this link. That raised a second eyebrow. The thing that really got us going was Nick Saban saying:
"It's none of your business. Aiight? And don't give me this stuff about the fans need to know, because they don't need to know."
Something about that has always bothered us. It wreaks of someone having something to hide.
Unhinged attacks on the SEC. Have we attacked the SEC, probably so, has it been unhinged, no not really. If we were attacking the ACC for oversigning, then it would be considered unhinged, but to take the conference with the worst problem with oversigning to task is not unhinged attacking in our opinion. Calling out the SEC for running off Georgia Tech, Tulane, and Sawenee isn't really all that unhinged either, in our opinion, it's more like factual history. The post regarding endowments was a follow up on two fronts: 1.) Texas joining the Big 10, and 2.) The SEC running off academic universities because of disagreements on athletic competition, specifically football, and how that has left them poorly positioned in terms of adding a powerhouse like Texas who wouldn't consider joining the SEC back in the 90's because of the poor academic standards. Again, those are facts, not unhinged attacks.
Click the link to continue reading >>>
If you care at all about this topic then you need to watch this video.
Having watched the video, there is no question that ESPN could have done the exact same story on Nick Saban and Alabama. The parallels are eerily similar. Big name coach, long-term 35 million dollar contract, coach comes in and oversigns recruits and start gutting the roster, etc., etc. All of those things are fine when you are dealing with professional athletes, but when you are dealing with unpaid, college athletes it's a different story.
Ramogi Huma, President of the NCPA, is leading the charge on NCAA rules reform. Go check out the website!
We're going to try and keep this post brief, but during our review of Michael's oversigning essay on his site, Braves and Birds, we couldn't help but think about the topic of APR - Academic Progress Rate. APR is basically a way for the NCAA to attempt to determine if student-athletes are making academic progress towards graduation. Here is press release from the NCAA on APR; warning, you are very likely to go cross-eyed while reading the press release.
Not trying to be cynical here, but something about the NCAA's APR system just doesn't seem right. It's as if the NCAA is trying to put a number on something that you really can't put a number on...academic progress seems more like a subjective matter to us. Is the NCAA concerned with student-athletes getting a quality education and a meaningful degree, or do they just want some sort of proof that college athletics are not a farm league for the NFL and NBA.
Dennis Dodd is not buying it either:
"And what is happening is not promising, even if you have a shred of skepticism in academic reforms. You can identify if you've ever chased a number -- sales quota, commission, etc. It's less about the process, more about getting to the number. It's easy to agree with Ridpath when he says some schools are more interested in chasing the 925 APR cutoff score than in meaningful degree programs."
What does this have to do with oversigning and Michael's essay???
Ole Miss was the only school in the SEC hit with scholarship reductions because of APR issues; with a score of 910 Ole Miss was penalized 3 scholarships in football for the 2010 recruiting class. Schools must score 925 or above to avoid penalty. Ironically, Ole Miss was one of only two BCS schools to be hit with APR penalties in football, Minnesota was the other school.
If the topic of oversigning had a twin brother from a different mother, it would be the topic of APR. Much like playing tricky games with recruiting numbers to run through more players (either to get a competitive advantage or to subsidize academic and character-based attrition), we're almost certain there are tricky games being played with the APR numbers.