SEC Successfull Enacts Oversigning Legislation

As you've probably by now heard, the SEC Presidents voted to sign in wide-ranging new oversigning / roster management regulations. The new rules are as follows:

(1) Eliminated the one-year graduate student exception adopted just last year. A student-athlete who transfers in to have two years of eligibility remaining in order to participate in athletics. However, this won’t be implemented the 2012 season.

(2) Will not permit an SEC institution to sign a prospect to a financial aid agreement until that prospect is enrolled and is a full-time student attending classes. It applies to a prospect who intends to enroll prior to the projected high school graduation date (aka early enrollment).

(3) Established legislation specifying that the conference office will oversee the administration of medical scholarship exemptions. The SEC will have a role in reviewing and deciding the outcome of each medically-related exemption.

(4) Reduced the permissible number of signees from 28 to 25 and moves back the start date for the window for counting date back to Dec. 1. Allow signees to be exempt from the 25 limit if they can be counted as an initial counter in the current year. Establish an oversight process involving a review of roster management issues by the conference office and the presidents and by the ADs. It will require written reports from all 12 institutions.In addition going to propose this legislation nationally. Will write to Dr. Emmert in the next few weeks to advise him that the conference has submitted this proposal we have adopted and we have an expectation that the NCAA should and will adopt the same proposal. It’s in the best interest of prospects, not only here but in the nation.

(5) A prospective student-athlete who attends summer school will count against that year’s scholarship total.

There are several things to observe about the new regulations. The first is that this doesn't stop oversigning. The regulations don't install a hard cap prohibiting coaches from signing above the 85-player total limit, meaning that coaches like Bobby Petrino and Nick Saban are still free to sign tons of players and then to cut players who aren't performing to standard to make room for the new guys. The new rules do limit coaches' ability to sign over 85, but they don't eliminate it.

Frankly, a hard cap of 85 total players wouldn't solve this problem, either. Even with a hard cap, coaches would still be able to can underperforming players. They'd just have to do so before recruiting season begins, in order to make more room under the 85-player cap. The only thing that would really change things on this note is  to make scholarships a four-year commitment from the school. That was never on the table in the first place, and considering that enacting a rule like that would put the SEC at a serious disadvantage vis-a-vis other schools, don't expect it to ever happen unless the NCAA institutes it across the board.

The second thing to observe, though, is that these new rules arent' simply window dressing, despite what many are saying. The medical-hardship rule could have a major effect at Alabama, where it appears that Nick Saban and his staff have vastly exploited medical hardships for purposes of roster purging. The financial-aid agreement rule should do a lot to protect student-athletes and help them keep their options open during recruitment. The 25-player limit will force coaches to do business more wisely than in the past.

There's still work to be done on this issue. I suspect we're going to find that enterprising coaches will still find ways to exploit the rules. However, we're being unjust if we don't acknowledge that the SEC took a big step today. Lots of SEC critics thought nothing would come out of this meeting on the oversigning front. Now, they want to have it both ways and say that what did happen--and Slive nearly got his entire leaked proposal pushed through--doesn't matter. They're wrong. This is definitely progress, and the SEC should be commended for what it did this week.

So, what do you think of the new rules?

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