Last year, the SEC made headlines when the conference adopted a rule stipulating that schools would be limited to 28 signed letters of intent between National Signing Day and May 1 — affectionately referred to as the “Houston Nutt Rule“, referring to the Right Reverend’s 2009 class of 37.
The NCAA adopted the rule this year.
But that hasn’t stopped SEC schools from continuing to oversign their recruiting classes. In 2010, Auburn and LSU oversigned their classes by 4 LOI’s and 1 LOI, respectively. We haven’t even hit National Signing Day 2011 yet and already South Carolina has more verbal commits than the 28-LOI cap.
To meet the 85 scholarship limit with 25 new athletes enrolled in the fall, programs can still grayshirt an incoming player, send an them to the JUCO ranks, or revoke the scholarship of a current player (by definition, scholarships are “one-year contracts” renewed based on merit).
“There are still universities that will oversign and it’s going to end up with a student-athlete being left out,” Machen told the USA Today. “I think we either have to get the universities to be more serious about it, or the league and the NCAA are going to have to pass more stringent punishments for those who do oversign.
“Every (SEC) president sat at the table when we had that discussion. For some reason, some of them are not stepping up and stopping it.”
First of all, I wouldn’t bet Terrelle Pryor‘s 2008 gold pants that the SEC is going to govern themselves on this one because nowhere in college football is competition as fierce as it is in the SEC. Secondly, all 12 members had a chance to follow the rule last year and two of them didn’t with no punishment.
That leaves the NCAA (gulp).
According to the NCAA’s website, their core purpose is to “govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.”
At this point, we know those are just meaningless words. Machen wants action. Or, at least, a level playing field. Whether he gets it remains to be seen.
“Imagine what would happen if in the general student body admission process, the same thing happened,” exclaims Machen. “The public wouldn’t stand for it, and I don’t believe, if we put enough sunshine on this, the public will allow this to happen, in intercollegiate athletics.”