SEC "Traditions" writer Ron Higgins is on site at the SEC Spring Meetings. He will recap the day's activities here at the "Traditions" blog.
The expected hot topic on day one of the annual SEC spring business meetings at the Sandestin Beach Hilton on Tuesday was discussing possible changes to the league’s oversigning rule for football.
Two years ago, the SEC passed legislation allowing schools to oversign three players past the 25 per year scholarship limit, with the understanding teams would be at the 25 limit by the time teams reported for preseason training camp in August.
Since some SEC schools signed more than 28 players this past recruiting season, there’s a proposal from league athletic directors to cap the signing number at the original NCAA rule of 25, with no cushion for signing extra players in case of attrition.
“The important thing was to get the proposal here to Destin so we can talk about it,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “It could be adopted, rejected or revised.”
Some of the proposed elements of the rule that could have an impact if approved by the presidents of the SEC’s 12 members are:
*Limiting the number of signees to 25 with that limit applying to the recruits that sign between Dec. 1 and Aug. 1. There would be an exception for mid-year enrollees included in the current academic year's numbers.
*Barring early enrollees from signing an SEC financial aid agreement until they are enrolled and attending class. Currently, it’s legal for recruits to sign such agreements after their junior year of high school. This prevents other SEC schools from recruiting them.
*Making incoming signees who attend summer school on scholarship before the fall semester count against scholarship numbers (the maximum allowed team total of 85) for the next academic year.
*Giving the SEC office more power of review in medical redshirt exemptions for incoming signees. The league would require a team doctor, trainer and the school's athletic director approve each case.
Most of the league’s football coaches want the league to keep the current rule passed two years ago of limiting schools to 28 signees.
“I don’t want to say if it’s a competitive advantage to be able to sign 28,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “It’s very difficult to hit a home run, to sign 25 guys and expect 25 guys to be on your campus for fall practice. There’s too much margin of error there, all the variables that can happen with student athletes.
“You might have a kid not make his grades, or decide to go play pro baseball, or get hurt. Then, all of sudden stuck with 22 out of 25, and you haven’t signed a full class.”
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said the 28-player limit is fine and will work if coaches adhere to the rule.
“Coaches always love to complain about what people say, but generally we’re the ones that cause the problem,” Dooley said. “There’s a difference between overage and excessive signing. What we started addressed the excessive signing. We need to allow for a little overage.”
In other news, men’s basketball coaches are discussing whether to continue to have two divisions or have a 12-team race with possible re-seeding for the league basketball tournament.
“Divisional play has gone in cycles and right now there’s a trend where the East is better than the West,” said new Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson, a former Hogs’ assistant under Nolan Richardson who was hired in March after successful run coaching Missouri in the Big 12. “In the Big 12, I thought it was good to have one big league instead of divisions, because you had the best teams seeded at the top going into the conference tournament. That’s what you want for your league heading into postseason play.”