Oversigning.com
3Apr/11157

Official Announcement! Marc Bailey Joins Oversigning.com

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: marc@oversigning.com.  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.

11Mar/1179

Q & A with Ramogi Huma, NCPA President

Ramogi Huma reached out to us a while back when he found our site, and since that time we have been communicating back and forth on the topic of oversigning.  Just recently, Mr. Huma provided testimony in a legislative hearing in the state of Connecticut that included the proposal of Committee Bill No. 5415, AN ACT REQUIRING FULL DISCLOSURE TO PROSPECTIVE ATHLETES BEING RECRUITED TO INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION.  From the NCPA website press release:

"In 1973, the NCAA made athletic scholarships renewable on a year-to-year basis," Sack said. "Four-year scholarships are a thing of the past."

The result, Sack said, is that high school students and their families often are unaware when and how a college can rescind a scholarship.

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."

http://www.ncpanow.org/news_articles?id=0026

The Bill also included an Article specific to oversigning:

(F) The policy of the institution of higher education regarding whether or not such institution may choose to sign more recruited student athletes than it has available athletic scholarships and the consequences to the athletic scholarship opportunities of recruited and current student athletes in such situations. 

Upon receiving word from Mr. Huma that they included provisions for creating transparency relative to oversigning (c&p from his email):

"Your work bringing the oversigning issue to national discussion was crucial in addressing oversigning in the Connecticut legislation."

We asked Mr. Huma if he would answer a few questions and allow us to share his response with our readers.  Keep in mind, while reading the Q&A session, Mr. Huma is the President of a non-profit organization with over 14,000 student-athlete members.  Therefore, he is hearing from players and parents what very few of us hear in the national media.  His comments are very telling in our opinion.

How long has oversigning been on your radar and when did it become a topic of concern?

"I bumped into oversigning.com last spring while doing research to support a bill that the NCPA sponsored in California, and the practice of oversigning immediately became a topic of concern."

The recent legislative proposal included an article that addresses oversigning and is calling for universities to disclose whether or not they engage in oversigning and what the consequences are for the student-athlete given that the institution engages in that practice. Obviously, the goal here is to help educate parents and players by forcing the universities to post their policy on oversigning on their athletic website.  From your perspective, how aware of oversigning are parents and recruits?

"Parents and recruits have no idea that oversigning takes place.  The only ones that eventually become aware are those that find out the hard way, which usually means that their school is forcing them to gray shirt or is not renewing their scholarship."

Many fans that support oversigning have a hard time believing that the practice really harms kids, we have tried change the way people think in that regard on the oversigning.com site, but yet there are still some that are not convinced.  What would you say to those people?

"Typically when schools oversign, an incoming player is gray shirted or a player already on the roster loses a scholarship.  I have personally fielded numerous calls from both categories of players from all sports who are informed that their scholarship will not be available upon arrival or will not be renewed.  All have been devastated by not only the loss of their means to earn a degree, but the deep sense of betrayal by their coach/college.  For the incoming players, many of them have to try to pay their own way through school without any guarantee that they will ever receive a scholarship.  Many of these families have not prepared for such expenses since the schools had promised a scholarship.  In addition, other previously interested schools lose interest because their rosters are already full.

For current players that lose their scholarship to make room for an incoming recruit, those fortunate enough to transfer to another school often suffer academically because many of their credits are not accepted by the new school, they have to change their major, and have to sit out a year before  competition.  Others drop out of school.  Most of these players had been promised 4 years as long as they kept their grades up and abided by team rules.  Players are not aware that a school can revoke a scholarship for any reason.  Most of the players I've spoken to have been in good academic standing, have participated fully in mandatory and 'voluntary' workouts, and have not broken a team rule.  Make no mistake, the young student-athletes and parents I have spoken are completely devastated.  That's the first time I've heard the argument that players whose scholarships are taken away or are forced to grey shirt are not harmed.  I hope its the last time.  We should be focusing on ways to solve this problem not spending our energy debating whether or not a knife wound really hurts." 

Outside of the proposed state legislation, what would you like to see the NCAA or the SEC conference do to address the issue?  The Big 10 Conference addressed this issue back in 1954 and it appears that their rules, which were slightly relaxed in 2002 to allow occasional oversigning with the understanding that everything is transparent and processed through the conference office to ensure there is not player abuse taking place to make the roster numbers work, should the SEC and the rest of college football simply adopt those rules or is something more needed?

"While the NCPA believes in and is currently pushing for better transparency on this issue,  I believe that there is a better solution.  Schools should not be allowed to sign more players than they have scholarships."

And lastly, some have made the point that closing the oversigning loophole will simply move the attrition further upstream so that the number of openings that exist on NSD are greater, essentially meaning that roster purging would take place in Dec/Jan instead of after February and before August.  A.) Do you think that closing the loophole will result in further abuses upstream, and B.) how would you address that if it happens?

A.) It is possible that some coaches would remove players from the rosters early unless 2 things happen (see B)

B.)
1. All scholarship non-seniors listed on the roster at the beginning of the season are counted toward the scholarship count on National Signing Day.  Coaches wouldn't have an incentive to purge the roster before signing day because it wouldn't allow them to sign an excess number of players.

2. Schools should have a second signing period in July to fill scholarship openings due to players who transfer, become academically ineligible, suffer a career ending injury, etc. 

With these two provisions, coaches can address natural attrition without the ability to deny a signee a scholarship or remove an existing player due to oversigning.  If all of the colleges played by the same rules, none would have an unfair advantage and players' educational opportunities would not be sacrificed.

Filed under: Mail 79 Comments
9Mar/1172

Quick Update

We have been busy the last couple of days exchanging emails with Ramogi Huma, President at NCPA and Chad Hawley, Associate Commissioner from the Big 10 Conference regarding oversigning. We have two interesting pieces coming, hopefully later tonight, if not we'll have them up tomorrow. Here are some tidbits.

1. Ramogi Huma brought it to our attention that he provided testimony during a legislative hearing in the state of Connecticut to propose legislation that would require institutions to state whether or not they engage in oversigning and if they do what the ramifications are for the student-athlete. There were several other topics discussed during the hearing and included in the proposal. In addition, Mr. Huma was gracious enough to do a question and answer session with us via email, in which he has some very interesting comments on the topic of oversigning, and we will be sharing that with you soon as well.

2. In an effort to continue to work on the recruiting numbers for the oversigning cup, we sent a request to Chad Hawley regarding the numbers for Big 10 Conference teams, in addition, we asked Mr. Hawley to share with us how the Big 10 rules work for monitoring the signing process, specifically the monitoring of oversigning. As with Mr. Huma, Mr. Hawley was gracious enough to give us a detailed account of how the Big 10 office monitors oversigning and we will be sharing that with you as well. Note: Mr. Hawley sheds some light on a few things we did not know that all of you should find very interesting.

Thanks for reading! Updates coming soon!

Filed under: Quick Links 72 Comments
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