Oversigning.com
12Feb/1184

The Worst Article Ever Written on Oversigning

We have read a lot of articles on oversigning and listened to a lot of people talk about the topic over the last year.  The vast majority of people writing or talking about this topic don't fully understand it and the complexities involved.  Some are too emotionally charged to think clearly long enough to fully understand what oversigning is and who is guilty of abusing the practice.  Others are in clear denial that it is an issue, such as the blog Bama Sports Report. 

http://www.bamasportsreport.com/2011-articles/february/oversigning-from-alabamas-perspective.html 

Nick Saban is everybody's favorite oversigning whipping boy. It's a role he's no doubt accustomed to - he's been the internet's number two villian (just behind Hitler) since he told reporters he wasn't leaving the Dolphins for Alabama. But here's the thing. There's really nothing to see here. No one has done anything wrong. Let's take a closer look at the rules and what Alabama has done.

Saban and Alabama have broken no rules. No one has even alleged that they have. The process is pretty clear. You put 85 (or fewer) student athletes on scholarship each year, and no more than 25 can be added in a year. You submit those lists to the NCAA and everyone goes on about their way.

Translated: no rules have been broken, there is nothing here to see, and you can put 85 on scholarship each year with no more than 25 being added each year.  Wow.  Really?  Let's continue.

Last year, the SEC changed the rules to allow member institutions to only bring in 28 student athletes per class. This was mostly in response to the class of 33 Houston Nutt inked at Ole Miss a few years earlier. Big Ten fans are up in arms because the Big Ten only allows member institutions to sign the exact number that they have available. 

Why does the Big Ten do this? Moral superiority? Past abuses? The warm fuzzy feeling of getting steamrolled in big bowls? I don't know. But the SEC (and many other conferences) have chosen not to follow their lead. That it disadvantages the Big Ten is a Big Ten problem.

Ugh.  The Huston Nutt Rule was in response to his class of 37, not 33.   The new SEC rule doesn't allow member institutions to bring 28 student-athletes per class, it limits SIGNING to 28 from February to May 31st.  It in no way addresses the real issue of keeping schools from being faced with having to get rid of players because all of their new recruits that signed a LOI qualified and to enroll them all would put them over the 85 limit.  The rule change was meaningless.

Big 10 fans are not the only ones "up in arms."  The University of Florida President, Bernie Machen, was a little bent on the topic, calling it and greyshirting morally reprehensible, Mark Richt has spoken out on the topic, and there is a Twitter account called Oversigning that is operated by a Georgia Bulldog fan who is absolutely furious about oversigning and has been relentless in pestering the national media.  And as a result, the entire national media has picked up on the topic and the court of public opinion has ruled that oversigning is a slime-ball tactic that needs to go.  The issue of oversigning is not a Big 10 problem it is a SEC problem, check that, it's a problem of schools that are abusing it, some SEC schools don't (Georgia, Florida, Vandy traditionally speaking) and some schools outside of the SEC do (Miami, Florida State, Troy) although not to the tune of the SEC schools that do, and even more of a problem for schools who are abusing it and then refusing to release their scholarship numbers to the general public. 

Let's continue...

Sadly, it's a fact that public schools in Alabama and Mississippi are occasionally lacking. See our national rankings in most test scores, etc. So, more frequently than in richer, more industrialized states, kids in the south fail to qualify. It's not a fact that those in the Big Ten don't know; it's frequently used as a convenient insult. But when it hurts their argument, it is ignored.

More industrialized states?  Really?  The bottom line on this BS is that there are plenty of kids that can qualify in the south; they might not run a 4.3 40 or have freakish talent, but with all of the population shifts there are plenty of good, quality kids that can get it done on the field and in the classroom.  Coaches just need to get better at finding them and better at coaching them up.  The reason we see so many guys not getting in is because coaches go after so many kids that they know won't qualify --  they do this for a couple of reasons: to keep competitors away from them and in hopes of signing and placing them in the JUCO farm system. 

And here's the bottom line. Since Nick Saban arrived at Alabama, two student athletes have left the program without a "soft landing" - meaning fre school. Those two kids are Jimmy Johns and Jeremy Elder. They were both arrested for felonies.

Every other kid has received at least some sort of tacit nod to other programs. You can bet if Saban were poor-mouthing departures, less of them would be receiving free rides elsewhere. Either way, these are year to year scholarships. Something that isn't news to anyone. There's no obligation to renew the scholarship.

Soft landing.  Really?  Going from a 4-5 star recruit at one of the premier schools on track to get a quality degree from a great school to a spot on a FCS roster and degree from a lesser school is a soft landing, provided he even makes it that far...sounds more like a shattered dream.  To be fair this isn't all on the oversigning coaches; bogus recruiting services that attempt to rank these kids are just as guilty of contributing to the rise and fall of some of these student-athletes.

It appears that The Drake Group and the National College Players Association disagree with the Bama Sports Report in the assertion that everyone knows that scholarships are 1 year renewable contracts.  Both groups were in Hartford, Connecticut testifying at a legislative hearing.

Sack, who called the proposed bill the "Connecticut Student-Athletes' Right to Know Act," said he was attending the hearing as president-elect of The Drake Group. According to the organization's website, it has a national network of college faculty that lobbies for proposals that ensure a quality education for college athletes.

While NCAA rules state that athletic aid cannot be reduced or cancelled during the one-year period of the award because of athletic ability or injury, Sack said, "the rules are murky when it comes to conditions for the renewal and non-renewal of the scholarships in the subsequent year."

"Some universities renew scholarships for four years as long as athletes continue playing and adhere to team rules," said Sack. "Others cancel scholarships for poor athletic performance or for injury."

Sack, who called the proposed bill the "Connecticut Student-Athletes' Right to Know Act," said he was attending the hearing as president-elect of The Drake Group. According to the organization's website, it has a national network of college faculty that lobbies for proposals that ensure a quality education for college athletes.

Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA football player and president of the National College Players Association — a California nonprofit made up of more than 14,000 Division 1 student athletes — also testified at the hearing and went one step further. He said the majority of high school recruits decide which college to attend based on "false information given to them by athletic recruiters."

Most recruits and their parents have no idea, Huma said, that colleges can "leave them with sports-related medical expenses, take away their scholarship for any reason, leave them with tens of thousands of dollars in educational-related expenses, and hold their eligibility and scholarship opportunities hostage when they try to transfer schools."

http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-college-sport-scholarships-0209-20110208,0,6085518.story

And for the grand finale...

I was on the debate team in college. It paid my way. I was well aware that if I didn't do what I needed to do, there'd be no scholarship next year. Whether that was a certain amount of research or practice or keeping my grades up, I knew that there were expectations. I knew if I failed to meet those, I'd have to pay my own way. Why is a football scholarship any different?

My final thought is really this. Oversigning is legal. No matter the scenario, kids are getting free college tuition (barring felony arrests). Oversigning does, unequivocally, give a competitive advantage.

If it's legal, and no kids are harmed in the process, then the guy who's getting paid upwards of $4 million dollars a year to win football games ought to be doing it. If he's not, he's not doing everything he can - within the rules - to win football games. And that's not acceptable. That's the cold, hard, unfeeling truth here.

Debate team.  Really?  Regardless, the comparison of a football scholarship to an academic scholarship is completely laughable.  Wonder if the coach of the debate team was being paid millions of dollars based on the performance of the writer of this article.   Wonder if the debate coach faced the same level of pressure to win as Saban or Miles do?  Wonder if the debate team coach was only allowed to give out X number of debate scholarships?  What if a new debate coach comes in and he wants to clear the roster?  If a debater wanted to go to another school to debate would he have to sit out a year?  Wonder if the writer of the article signed of LOI that bound him to the school in a one-way agreement?  And lastly, how many times does a debater put his life at risk debating so that the schools, coaches, and TV networks can make millions?

That last paragraph about sums it up: to not oversign is unacceptable in this guy's eyes.  Pretty sad state of affairs.  Saban has had 12 kids placed on medical hardship scholarship, a scholarship reserved for players that are so severely injured they can no longer play football.  If Alabama were a tax-paying, private sector business, OSHA would be camped out at the corporate headquarters asking why their employees were being injured at such a higher rate than other similar businesses.  Guess this guy would give them the finger too.

Filed under: SEC 84 Comments
1Feb/1163

We All Know who Bernie Machen is Talking About

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/football/ncaa/01/31/bernard.machen.letter/index.html#ixzz1Cj4IXMik

In Division I college football this practice is known as "grayshirting" and, unfortunately, there are universities that sanction this activity. The universities, with full knowledge of what they are doing, extend more athletic scholarships than they have. These schools play roulette with the lives of talented young people. If they run out of scholarships, too bad. The letter-of-intent signed by the university the previous February is voided. Technically, it's legal to do this. Morally, it is reprehensible.

Associated with "grayshirting" -- and equally disgusting -- is the nefarious practice of prematurely ending student-athletes' scholarships. Some are just not renewed even though the student-athlete is doing what is asked of him.

Some students are mysteriously given a "medical exemption" which ends their athletic careers -- and makes another scholarship available for the football coach to hand out.

To be clear, greyshirting is not the core issue here...it is the ethics and lack of a moral compass that leads to the, as Machen describes it, disgusting practice of pushing kids into medical hardships or cutting them from their scholarship.  There is a particular coach in the SEC who is selling the greyshirt model and that same coach has had just as many or more medical hardships (13) than the rest of the SEC combined in the last 4-5 years.  That is not by accident and it appears that Mr. Machen has had enough of it.

We believe that when handled properly, with complete transparency and extra care given to protect the student-athlete, there are unique situations that constitute a greyshirt opportunity.

Filed under: Quick Links 63 Comments
1Feb/1173

Florida President, Bernie Machen, Blames SEC University Presidents for Oversigning Issue

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/2011-01-31-recruiting-schools-oversigning_N.htm

"I don't think the rule we passed is going to solve the problem," Florida President Bernie Machen says. "There are still universities that will oversign and it's going to end up with a student athlete being left out. I think we either have to get the universities to be more serious about it, or the league and the NCAA are going to have to pass more stringent punishments for those who do oversign."

SEC associate commissioner Greg Sankey says a working group of conference athletics directors formed last August will study the issue further and present possible solutions at the SEC's annual meeting in early June. Machen blames SEC presidents for allowing oversigning to continue at some league schools.

"Every (SEC) president sat at the table when we had that discussion," says Machen, referring to the 28-player rule. "For some reason, some of them are not stepping up and stopping it. Imagine what would happen if in the general student body admission process, the same thing happened. If you admit a student in early February then you tell them in early July that we're not going to have a spot for you. The public wouldn't stand for it, and I don't believe, if we put enough sunshine on this, the public will allow this to happen, in intercollegiate athletics." Though oversigning isn't a new problem, increased attention — including the website oversigning.com, which tracks the worst offenders — has brought greater scrutiny.

The only take we have on this is that oversigning has been a problem in the SEC that dates back 40 years FOURTY YEARS; do we really need to continue to "study" it?  There is a simple answer to this problem - have Mike Slive pick up the phone and call Jim Delany and ask for a copy of the Big 10 rules that govern and monitor oversigning.  Surely Jim will send them right over; they have been on the books since 1954.

And hats off to Bernie Machen for stepping up and saying the right things.

Filed under: SEC 73 Comments