I donâ€™t know how, but I missed this little nugget from the NCAA this past January:
The Division I Legislative Council voted Wednesday to limit the practice of â€œover-signingâ€ prospective football student-athletes to National Letters of Intent, a strategy employed by some coaches that had the potential of leaving some recruits without a scholarship.
Proposal No. 2009-48, sponsored by the Southeastern Conference, limits to 28 the number of Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes who may sign a National Letter of Intent or an institutional offer of financial aid from the first signing day through May 31. The measure will be considered adopted at the end of the Division I Board of Directors meeting on January 16, with an effective date of August 1, 2010.
So hereâ€™s a question about the NCAAâ€™s concerns: Are they concerned about problems, or just the potential for problems? As is too often the case, it doesnâ€™t matter what the NCAA is concerned about because they lack either the intelligence or the will to actually fix the problems that they are blathering about.
Those of you that have ever been involved in root-cause analysis or investigations know that a complete definition of the problem is essential to insure that your corrective action program/solution actually fixes whatever is broken. I wonder how much the NCAA would pay to have a competent assessment of the actual problem and development of some steps to prevent those problems.
What the heck. Iâ€™m feeling generous today so Iâ€™ll do it for free:
Limiting signing to 28 kids does little to nothing to curb the â€œproblemâ€ of over signing or eliminate the chance for a recruit to be left without a scholarship:
- What happens if a school only has 18 scholarships available? How effective is the new rule in preventing over-signing now?
- What if 26 kids with LOIs quality? How did the new rule prevent a recruit from being left without a scholarship? Is it OK if less than three recruits are left without a scholarship?
At best, the SECâ€™s and NCAAâ€™s solution is treating a symptom and not the actual problem(s). The real problem is not necessarily over-signing, it is the sleazy steps that unscrupulous coaches take to prevent exceeding the maximum number of scholarships allowed by the NCAA. Letâ€™s review some of the tricks that weâ€™ve seen used in the ACC over the last few years.
1) Withdrawing verbal offers immediately before national signing day. Examples include:
- John Bunting at UNC (but at least he got the kid a scholarship to Indiana)
- Ralph Friedgen pulled a verbal offer to Steve Slaton (That didnâ€™t work out too well for Fridge.)
- Tommy Bowden at Clemson pulled an offer to a kid from Maryland
2) The school denies admission when they have over signed thus dodging the requirements of the National Letter of Intent:
- DaJaun Morgan (Ohio State)
- Bobby Washington (Miami)
3) While the schools have far more opportunities for abusing the current system, there are still issues where coaches and schools are the ones that end up with the short straw. Nearly every â€œsigning day surpriseâ€ has both a pleasant aspect for one school and an unpleasant aspect for another.
ISSUES BEYOND THE CURRENT PROBLEM SCOPE
Of course, coaches and schools have other tricks for which no remedy is immediately or easily available:
This practice is used to describe the process of a recruit enrolling six months to a year after his high school graduating class has enrolled in college. Sometimes this is planned between the coaches and players because of limited scholarships. Rumors would have you believe that this is one of the escape routes used by coaches that over sign.
If Billy Bob really wants to play for Hometown U that badly, then there is not really anything that can be done. However, proper control of the LOI system can prevent this practice from being an annual fall-back position for coaches that over sign.
By definition, scholarships are awarded for one year. I would hope that high school coaches would care enough about their players to steer them away from coaches that use the waiver wire OR any other dirty trick. However as we saw in John Buntingâ€™s case noted above, honesty can be In short supply when the high school coach is getting paid for working during summer camps at the university.
With the weight of legal precedent behind the patient-doctor relationship, there is no way to adequately monitor or police this practice. Short of direct testimony from the player or his parents, there is probably nothing that can be done.
A REAL SOLUTION
The current process of awarding scholarships (verbal offers and acceptance, national signing day late in the year, and current LOI rules) allows too many chances for abuse. Eliminate the tactics used by the unscrupulous and you minimize the chances for future abuse:
#1) A recruit may sign a national LOI anytime after August 31 of his senior year of high school (ie replace verbal commitments by seniors with actual contracts binding on both the athlete and the school).
- Coach makes offer.
- When player is ready to accept, he calls coach and tells him.
- Coach sends LOI with authorizing signature from university via e-mail.
- Player has seven days (or some time limit) to return LOI with his and guardianâ€™s signatures to the university.
If either the coach or player balks at signing a LOI, then the other party knows exactly where he stands.
#2) Once a player is passed by the NCAA Clearinghouse, the university that offered the LOI must accept that player and give the athletic aid as outlined in the LOI.
#3) A school may set their own acceptance standards that are stricter than those required by the NCAA. However, the standards must be objective (standardized test scores, core GPA, etc) and must be on file with the NCAAâ€™s Compliance Office by July 31 (one month before a LOI can be signed). The acceptance standards for the school must be submitted to the student with the LOI offer from the school.
#4) For those schools that set their own acceptance standards, the university can not make any exceptions or exemptions to their standards when evaluating players for admittance. The school must file a report with the NCAA Compliance Office within one month of freshman enrollment documenting the status of all players who signed a LOI along with the studentâ€™s results for the standards set by the university in paragraph #3.
#5) On determination that a recruit has been denied admission after signing a LOI and passing the applicable NCAA Clearinghouse or university standards, then the university must immediately remit the value of one-yearâ€™s athletic aid to the recruit. In addition, the university will lose two scholarships for the next season for every player denied admission. The penalties will be imposed on the university even if the player obtains a scholarship at another school.
#6) Once a player has signed a LOI, coaches from other universities may not contact the player or his family after being informed of the completed LOI.
#7) If a student does not complete the admission and enrollment process after signing an LOI, then that student may not receive a scholarship to a Div 1 or Div 2 program or play varsity sports without a scholarship at a Div 1 or Div 2 program for a period of one year.
#8) Grievances by either a player or school may be filed with the NCAA Compliance Office for disposition.
Now that wasnâ€™t really that hard. Was it?8)