A rarely-used SEC document may have helped Alabama land the nation’s No. 1-ranked offensive tackle out of prep school.
On Tuesday, Brandon Hill of Virginia’s Hargrave Military prep school announced that he was flipping from Ole Miss to Alabama.
It was under unique circumstances:
Ole Miss was ordered to stop recruiting Hill by its compliance office after it was revealed he had signed an SEC financial aid agreement with Alabama earlier this month, according to the Clarion-Ledger’s Hugh Kellenberger — and that was when Hill was still committed to Ole Miss.
The website also reported that Hill may have not realized what he was doing when he signed off on the papers.
There are three things commonly signed by prospective student-athletes headed to the SEC: A national letter of intent (which binds the PSA to a specific institution), a financial aid agreement with the specific institution (which binds the college to the PSA) and an SEC financial aid agreement (which is essentially a gentlemen’s agreement among conference schools).
More specifically, the SEC financial aid agreement is signed by the PSA and their legal guardian with an individual SEC school, and it immediately “ceases” other SEC members from “actively recruiting” the prospect.
It is common for high school seniors to sign all three documents each February. However, post-graduates or prep school players that enroll early at a four-year college usually sign only one — a financial aid agreement that is university-specific.
Under SEC rules, a high school senior enrolling early can only sign one document, the financial aid agreement with a specific institution. However, there’s a loophole for postgraduates.
A compliance officer at one SEC school told the AJC that it was “very unusual” for postgraduates to sign the SEC financial aid agreement. They also gave credit to Alabama for thinking to do it.
When Hill knowingly or unknowingly signed with SEC financial aid agreement with Alabama earlier this month, it prevented Ole Miss from further courtship with the 6-foot-5, 350-pounder. Under the SEC document, Hill could’ve chosen to enroll at a non-SEC school without any penalty. However, had Hill wanted to stick with Ole Miss, he couldn’t have gotten a scholarship from the Rebels for two full academic years.
Essentially, the document secured Hill for Alabama if he wanted to play in the SEC. That’s the most interesting part, along with if this will be a trend between prep school players and SEC schools. One of Hill’s teammates at Hargrave, defensive tackle John Atkins, told the AJC that he has not signed anything with UGA yet.
Outside the document issue, there’s a good chance that Hill might’ve ended up at Alabama anyways. He signed with the Crimson Tide last year but failed to meet NCAA requirements. Hill took an official visit to Alabama earlier this month and remained publicly committed to Ole Miss until a couple of day ago. Hill told BamaOnline that he flipped after having a “heart-to-heart talk” with his mother and that Alabama was his “dream.” He did not mention signing the SEC document earlier this month. Hill, who told al.com he will enroll at Alabama next month, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday night.
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