DESTIN, FLA. – Southeastern Conference presidents on Friday introduced sweeping legislation that will radically alter the way the league’s football teams go about recruiting.
Starting next year, SEC teams will be allowed to sign only 25 football players to a national letter-of-intent. The period that encompasses will be changed to Dec. 1 to May 31 and will include mid-year and summer enrollees as well.
In all there were five proposals regarding football scholarships that the presidents voted on and enacted on Friday. You may need a lawyer to interpret the details regarding what they’re now calling “roster management.” But essentially the SEC office will be overseeing the scholarship process, including the issuance of medical exemption scholarships.
The SEC also voted to eliminate the one-year, postgraduate exception it instituted only a year ago.
“The goal here is to make sure that we can balance the equities between prospective student-athletes and our institutions,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told reporters after the four-day meetings were adjourned Friday. “We believe these proposals are thoughtful and important to the extent we will be aggressive pursuing them on a national level.”
Only Slive and reigning SEC Chairman of the Board Bernie Machen remained to talk with media about the new legislation. However, as he was leaving the meeting, UGA president Michael Adams said, “It’s a good day to be in the SEC. Everybody did the right thing.”
The five roster management proposals enacted were:
(1) Eliminated the one-year graduate student exception adopted just last year. A student-athlete who transfers in to have two years of eligibility remaining in order to participate in athletics. However, this won’t be implemented the 2012 season.
(2) Will not permit an SEC institution to sign a prospect to a financial aid agreement until that prospect is enrolled and is a full-time student attending classes. It applies to a prospect who intends to enroll prior to the projected high school graduation date (aka early enrollment).
(3) Established legislation specifying that the conference office will oversee the administration of medical scholarship exemptions. The SEC will have a role in reviewing and deciding the outcome of each medically-related exemption.
(4) Reduced the permissible number of signees from 28 to 25 and moves back the start date for the window for counting date back to Dec. 1. Allow signees to be exempt from the 25 limit if they can be counted as an initial counter in the current year. Establish an oversight process involving a review of roster management issues by the conference office and the presidents and by the ADs. It will require written reports from all 12 institutions.In addition going to propose this legislation nationally. Will write to Dr. Emmert in the next few weeks to advise him that the conference has submitted this proposal we have adopted and we have an expectation that the NCAA should and will adopt the same proposal. It’s in the best interest of prospects, not only here but in the nation.
(5) A prospective student-athlete who attends summer school will count against that year’s scholarship total.
Slive said they will be writing a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert urging the full national members adopt these proposals. The SEC was able to do that successfully with the 28-25 signing rule it introduced just two years ago.
“We understand the spotlight for the moment is here [on the SEC],” Slive said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that what’s good for student-athletes here is good for student-athletes elsewhere.”
Slive would not confirm reports that SEC football coaches voted 12-0 to stick with the 28 signees maximum. But he said they were listened to and carefully considered in the process.
“The first amendment was alive and well,” he said. “Every group had an opportunity to weigh in on this.”
As for coaches’ contentions that the 28 rule had not been in place long enough to know if it was working.
“It’s been two years. We feel like we’ve had enough experience with it,” Slive said. “I believe the coaches can manage this way and still have the flexibility to do all the things they need to do.”
“Clearly neither recruiting nor signing is an exact science and it’s not necessarily a precise activity,”Slive said.
Also enacted at the SEC meetings this week:
Divisional play in men’s basketball was eliminated.
The rule temporarily allowing Mississippi State to use artificial noisemakers (cowbells) was extended. However, the school was fined $30,000 for misusing them in the first two games of last season ($5,000 for first offense and $25,000 for second). The school will now be fined $50,000 for each additional offense going forward.
The presidents voted to eliminate 7-on-7, flag football tournaments and games on campus and coaches involvement or attendance of them.
They also approved the distribution of a record $220 million among the 12 member institutions. That’s an average of $18.3 million per school.