New SEC Proposal on Oversigning and Roster Management

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:

  1. 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.

  3. 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.

  5. 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.

  7. 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.

Filed under: SEC 84 Comments

Mike Slive Prepares for the Annual SEC Meetings in Florida

Mike Slive took a few minutes to answer questions about the upcoming annual conference meetings and as expected the topic of oversigning came up during the conversation (see below).   The million dollar question is which athletic directors are in the group that is studying the oversigning issue???  Will Georgia and Florida have enough pull to force the rest of the conference athletic directors to seriously address the oversigning issue or will it be another round of window dressing with another toothless rule named after a coach?  Or, will the SEC shock the world and come up with a set of conference rules that are the toughest in the country on oversigning and grayshirting? 

Q: Will the SEC re-examine its rule, which has now become an NCAA rule, setting a limit of 28 football signees per class? Do you believe it has adequately addressed the issue of oversigning or does it need to be toughened, possibly even looking to the Big Ten model (which allows its football programs to sign only three over the number of scholarships it has available under the 85 limit)?

A: I don't think there's any particular model out there that we would care to emulate, but we're going to take a look at all these issues. It's more than just the question of oversigning. It's a question of looking at all these issues that comprise how teams develop their ultimate roster. We have put together a group of our athletic directors who have been working on this now for several months and we anticipate looking at their report in Destin, when we do our business. We expect the First Amendment to be alive and well in Destin and I actually anticipate that we would do something more than we have done up to now.

There are a lot of things that go with it -- the question of oversigning, the question of grayshirting, the question of early admission, the question of pre-enrollment in summer school. We are working to take a very comprehensive look at all the different elements, not just the one issue of oversigning.


Filed under: SEC 20 Comments

Mike Slive Q&A on Oversigning

SEC commissioner, Mike Slive, took some time to answer some questions with ESPN SEC Blogger, Chris Low.  Let's take a closer look at what he had to say.

On the heels of national signing day, one of the hot topics right now is oversigning, and those in the Big Ten are screaming that the SEC has a huge advantage because many of the SEC teams oversign so many players. Where do you stand on the matter?

MS: It was two years ago that we took the initiative and put in an SEC rule that 28 was the most you could sign [in one class] and understanding that the rest of the country might not do that. The rest of the country followed suit and copied the SEC rule nationally and made it 28. Now, we’ve had a couple of years with the 28, and there are issues that relate to signing day. We’ve actually had an athletic director committee that’s been looking at all this for several months before all of the articles. We expect a recommendation from the committee that will come to our athletic directors this spring, and I fully expect legislation to be considered in Destin [at the SEC meetings] that will address some of the issues that have been raised.

First, it has widely been accepted that the SEC Sponsored NCAA 28 rule is an absolute joke and in no real away addressed the core issue of oversigning, which is ethics.  Second, the 28 rule is a moot point in the Big 10 because they address the oversigning issue at its root, the 85 number.  What good is limiting signing to 28 when a school legitimately only has room for 15 under the 85???  That limit of 28 is just for February to May 31st by the way.  If a school has room for 15 and sign the 28, they can still go 13 over the 85 limit, which in essence is what causes the roster purging we see in the spring and summer as we close in on the August deadline for 85. 

Why wouldn't the other conferences agree to the 28 rule?  Very few of BCS conferences had a problem with schools going over 28 on regular basis to start with; that's not to say everyone was staying under 28 all the time, there were school here and there that would get to that level, but you could usually look back and see that they had a small class in the teens a year or two prior. 

We'll call this what it was - a knee-jerk reaction and window dressing by the SEC office to try and save face after Houston Nutt made a mockery of the signing process by signing 37 kids and then laughing about it to the press on signing day.   Let's hope the SEC athletic directors do the right thing in Destin and adopt the Big 10 recruiting rules which state that you have to establish your number before signing day and then you are allowed to issue exactly that many LOI with the option to petition for 3 extra, in which case you have to provide complete transparency in the numbers and document exactly how you come into compliance with the 85 rule.  There is ABSOLUTELY no reason on earth for the SEC and the rest of the country to not adopt these rules.  They have been in place since 1954 in the Big 10 and have worked well.  Therefore, what in the world could there be to look at and study?  There is a proven solution to this problem, all they have to do is adopt it. 

Do you think we’ll essentially see the end to oversigning in the SEC with some of this new legislation, and will there be some real teeth in this new legislation?

MS: It’s a much more complex question than meets the eye. That’s not to say it isn’t one that needs to be addressed and resolved. Just like we did with the 28 limit, I’m pretty confident that we will take some initiative in Destin to try and deal with some of the issues that have been discussed. It’s complicated when you talk about the 25 you can get in in August and then counting some back and then counting some forward and then the issue of “grayshirting.” You also have more and more prospects enrolling for the spring instead of waiting for the fall. Our athletic directors are trying to take all of those pieces to the puzzle and see if there’s a way in which to address them that’s really fair to the student-athlete and fair to the institution.

No, it's not complicated.  What is complicated is trying to track down and plug all of the loopholes that are being exploited by coaches trying to figure out a way to make room for more kids than they have room for under the 85 limit.  The signing process for recruiting kids is as simple as Pat Fitzgerald said it was on signing day: "We have 85 kids on scholarship now, we had room for 17, now we have 85."  What is making this complicated is all the tricky dickey exploitation of loopholes such as excessive medical hardships and the abuse of legitimate practices such as grayshirting.

Do you agree with Florida president Bernie Machen that “grayshirting” is a morally reprehensible practice?

MS: I think it’s a practice that on its face is one we’re going to address head-on. There’s a question that relates to notice and making sure that everybody knows exactly what’s going on. I think you will find that our ADs and our league will address the issue of “grayshirting.” Bernie has raised it. It’s definitely something that will be a part of whatever recommendations come from our athletic directors.

Let's hope the athletic directors don't address grayshirting the same way they addressed oversigning with their Houston Nutt Rule of 28.

Filed under: SEC 141 Comments

Big Recruiting Weekend

Nick Saban and Alabama, despite already being on tract to having one of the most oversigned classes in the country is having one of its biggest recruiting weekends this weekend.

"The Crimson Tide will welcome 11 recruits to campus trying to land deals with some of the nation's elite high school athletes."

Wonder what kind of "deals" the writer is talking about here?

"This might be the biggest weekend since (Alabama coach Nick Saban) and his staff have been there," Bamaonline.com recruiting editor Tim Watts said. "It's certainly the biggest I remember in the last 10 years or so. Whenever you see the No. 1 player in the country coming in on a visit it's always a big deal."

So despite the fact that they have 21 verbal commitments and 2 greyshirts that count towards this class, and given Alabama has one of the smallest senior classes in the country, Nick Saban and Alabama are hosting 11 recruits this weekend.  Granted some of them are probably just taking a free trip and there is no way on earth they sign all 11 of them, but why are they even bringing anyone in when they have already exceeded their projected scholarship limit based on the same guidelines the Big 10 Conference office would use to determine if they had room for more recruits?  Why?  Because SEC Commissioner, Mike Slive, is a puppet that serves at the pleasure of the SEC University Presidents and the President at the University of Alabama does not have the guts to stand up to Nick Saban and tell him what he is doing is wrong, unethical, and would not be tolerated anywhere in the Big 10 and at several universities around the country.

Alabama also will welcome a handful of players who already have verbally committed, including Vigor wide receiver Marvin Shinn.

According to Watts and Bone, the Tide has done a good job of filling its needs. But if Alabama can add a few more commitments it could reclaim its place at the nation's overall top signing class for 2011.

We don't have a problem with bringing in guys who have already verbally committed elsewhere, that is common practice and generally accepted, but the issue is that Alabama is so far over the limit and they are hell bent on signing 25-28 and sorting it out during spring camp and summer workouts.  Chances are, the guys that are verbally committed to other schools are committed to schools that have legitimate room for them; yet here is Nick Saban and Alabama, who by Big 10 Conference recruiting rules does not have any room and would be reprimanded, still bringing in recruits and still trying to get players.

The problem is that there is so much talent available now all over the country that the recruiting game is just as much about keeping players away from rivals as it is about filling your roster needs.

The only thing that can stop Nick Saban is the NCAA and the only way to get the NCAA to stop Nick Saban is to continue to spread the word about this practice and to shame the NCAA, Mike Slive, and the University Presidents into putting an end to oversigning.

While they are at it they might want to consider monitoring coaching hires as well...

Alabama may have improved its chances to land Clowney after it hired former Clemson assistant Chris Rumph to coach the defensive line.

For those that don't know, Clowney is a once-in-a-lifetime player.  He is a game changer with raw physical ability rarely seen, even at a school like Alabama that is used to having players like Julio Jones.  Simply put, this kid is a freak and the kind of player with which you win championships.  We're sure hiring Clowney's favorite coach had nothing to do with his recruitment.  This doesn't have anything to do with oversigning, it just wreaks, but then again what doesn't about a school and coach that are habitual abusers of something that an entire conference banned and the reason Georgia Tech left the SEC back in the 1960's.

Filed under: SEC 33 Comments

Mike Slive, Empty Suit

The year before last when Huston Nutt signed 500 recruits to letters of intent and then rubbed the NCAA's and the SEC's nose in it by saying that there wasn't a rule that said he couldn't, Mike Slive and the SEC university presidents decided to take a hard stand on the practice of oversigning and banned it in the SEC, or at least that was the spin at the time.

SEC ADs had wanted the cap at 30. The presidents had other ideas. Coaches tend to oversign classes for two reasons: 1) To protect themselves against academic casualties; and 2) To stockpile players by placing signees into prep schools or junior colleges, with a good likelihood those players will come back to them.

"The presidents and chancellors view signing the letter of intent as a commitment to the institution for a student-athlete that is academically capable of being admitted and contributing athletically," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. "From their point of view, there aren't other reasons to sign a kid. Obviously, coaches have their own reasons for doing things, and there's a litany of those."


In light of that the SEC limit was set at 28 signees per class and the Huston Nutt rule was born.  28 x 4 = 112 but we'll come back to that later. 

So did the new rule instituted by the SEC chancellors, presidents, and commissioner make any difference in oversigning this year?  Well, Houston Nutt didn't sign 37 recruits and his farm system is dead, but a number of schools signed more than they have room for: Alabama had 10 more than they had room for and LSU had 9 more than they had room for when the accepted the signed letter of intent.  Both schools managed to get down to 85 before the deadline in order to avoid NCAA penalties.

Mike Slive's new rule lacks teeth.  The Houston Nutt rule was nothing more than window dressing to quiet the masses and enable the practice to continue.  Mike Slive, as the SEC commissioner, should required that each of his institutions prove where every accepted LOI has an available scholarship tied to it before it is accepted.  And he should prohibit schools from accepting signed letters of intent that bind a player to the school if the school can not show him on paper at the time the LOI is accepted that there is already room for that ONE-WAY COMMITMENT to the school.  By allowing his institutions to exploit the oversigning loophole he allowed guys like Les Miles to screw an innocent kid like Elliott Porter.  And that is why this site exists.

In the end, however, it is obvious that Mike Slive cannot do that; he serves at the pleasure of the SEC university presidents.  Hence the empty suit.  He wears it well though.

Filed under: SEC 1 Comment