Sherman, a 5-foot-4 backup wide receiver who served as the team’s primary kickoff returner last season, said he first learned his position with the team might be in jeopardy a little more than a week ago. His fears were confirmed Tuesday in a meeting with Spurrier.
“They just said they got better players over the last year,” Sherman said. “Everybody they recruited committed and that never happens. And then everybody qualified (academically) and that never happens.”
Holloway goes on to dispute South Carolina's claim that everyone has qualified, but regardless, the explanation that South Carolina gave Sherman sure sounds like the definition of oversigning, but without the real numbers it is hard to be 100% sure he was cut to make the numbers work.
Based on Sherman's comments in this article, which are slightly different than his comments to us regarding whether or not he knew his scholarship was a 1 year renewable deal, it sounds like he knew that his scholarship was year-to-year and that everyone on the knows they are competing for a spot.
Sherman confirmed that. He said he was aware that his scholarship was a year-to-year deal, not a four-year pact between school and student-athlete. He said players at South Carolina are also aware that they are competing for their roster spots.
”It is what it is,” Sherman said. “It’s a business. I don’t think it’s fair, but it’s not my call.”
An astute observation for a 21-year-old. It is a business and it’s not fair. Those are the realities of big-time college athletics. But need they be?
That’s a question the NCAA needs to answer for itself. Does it want to be an organization that allows its student-athletes to stand defenseless against the steamrolling, win-at-all-costs machinery? Currently constructed, it’s a system in which rising seniors can have their financial aid pulled out from under them, or freshmen who already enrolled in classes can be told they’re no longer part of the team, not because they failed a class or got in trouble, but because the coach at their school treats a scholarship like an expiring contract and there’s a hot new free agent he’s got to make room for.
This leaves us with the debate over whether or not scholarships should be long-term details (4-5 years) like they used to be before coaching salaries skyrocketed and media/TV coverage turned into a 24/7/365 circus, or should we allow coaches to treat players like free-agents? In the NFL, free-agents actually have an agent and the power to negotiate their best deal. Could you imagine that in college?
Based on this string of twitter messages, South Carolina appears to be putting the screws to Bryce Sherman. There is a 99.9999% chance that the "behind the scenes" stuff is oversigning and the numbers crunch. In reading South Carolina sites, there really isn't another reasonable explanation.
This is yet again another example of coaches not being honest and upfront with kids, but who can blame them with the pressure to win and the money involved being so great that they don't have a choice, right? All it takes is one school in a conference to abuse oversigning and next thing you know nearly everyone else is having to do it in order to compete. It's a slippery slope that often leads to stories like Bryce Sherman.
The guys over at GarnetAndBlack.com have it right, Bryce Sherman deserves better than this.
However, at the same time, Sherman was committed to this football program. After he earned his scholarship and worked hard to retain it, we owed him better than this. Now, after pouring his soul into the program, he'll have to pay out for his final year of college, simply because he wasn't going to get much playing time and because we signed more players than we had room for. Presumably, it's too late for him to find some other school that will give him a scholarship, considering that we waited until this late to cut him. His options are limited.
Why does this happen???
The answer is simple. South Carolina, by current SEC rules and NCAA rules, is allowed to sign up to 28 players in a single class regardless of where that puts them with the 85 limit. This opens the door for abusing the numbers and abusing kids like Bryce Sherman. Most likely, South Carolina signed more than they had room for and they had to wait until now to find out who is going to be eligible. Why?
“It's also different recruiting in a lot of the SEC states than it is in other parts of the country in that coaches are dealing with a larger pool of at-risk students academically. Granted, it's not politically correct to say that, and coaches are hesitant to say it publicly. But just about all of them deal with it in the SEC, and often it's a guessing game down to the last minute about whether a handful of players in each class are going to qualify academically.”
By allowing Steve Spurrier to oversign and by scholarships being only 1 year renewable contracts, kids like Bryce Sherman are being held hostage and kept in the dark until the coaches find out who from the incoming class is going to qualify. If everyone qualifies then someone has to go, and in the end, a good, unsuspecting kid who has done everything that has been asked of him is cut loose by a coaching staff and school that has made money of his efforts and dedication while operating as a tax exempt entity with the stated purpose of providing higher education. And the kicker, that tax exempt entity (the university) is governed by another tax exempt entity with the stated purpose of ensuring that athletics are integrated into the educational process for the sole purpose of enhancing the educational experience.
Everything about this situation is wrong and the new SEC rules on oversigning are not going to stop it completely because the SEC did not address oversigning by capping the annual signing limit at the number of signed LOI that it takes to get to 85 when you combine the signed LOI with the number of players on scholarship when the LOI is signed.
The NCAA has got to step in and put a complete end to these scenarios, even if it takes completely restructuring the scholarship program. Next year's Bryce Sherman is counting on them to live up to their mission statement.