DESTIN, Fla. (AP) — The hottest topic at the Southeastern Conference’s annual meetings has nothing to do with national championships or NCAA violations. It has to do with what league Commissioner Mike Slive calls “fundamental fairness” to recruits.
His coaches agree.
Two years after the trendsetting conference limited its schools to signing 28 high school prospects, the league is considering dropping the number to 25. All 12 coaches voted against the proposal Wednesday, saying it could hinder their ability to fill rosters with talent.
“I’m very comfortable with where it is at right now,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “For us to turn around a year later and want to change again. … I have my doubts about us having given it enough time to figure out if it’s broke or not. I’m comfortable with where it’s at.”
Oversigning has become a controversial issue in the SEC. Critics say it has led schools to “grayshirt” some prospects, making them delay their enrollment until January because there is no room on the roster. University of Florida President Bernie Machen called the tactic “morally reprehensible.”
Slive has taken a softer tone, saying he wants a more equitable relationship for both schools and recruits.
“We’ll make some changes,” he said.
The proposed legislation could be passed later this week.
“When you read what the commissioner has said, there probably will be a change,” Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. “The people that criticize oversigning, I’m not sure they understand why you do it and what it’s all about and how you manage your roster and how you get to (the scholarship limit of) 85.”
Not totally welcomed
Even though Petrino expects the proposal to pass, he doesn’t believe it will be totally welcomed.
“I don’t know if there will be acceptance to it,” Petrino said. “It’s all how you manage your roster. I’ve always been one that oversigns, knowing that out of these six guys, three of them are going to get eligible and three are going to a junior college and then have a chance to come play for us.
“It almost always plays out right. Most of the time, it’s a situation where, prior to school in the fall, I’ve been able to put one or two walk-ons on scholarship.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban blamed the media for the proposed change, hinting that reporters gave too much attention to two LSU recruits who were denied admission last fall. (June 2, 2011, Page 2B)