It's official: The SEC is cracking down once again on the practice of football coaches oversigning soon-to-be high school graduates to scholarships, despite the unanimous wishes of the conference's coaches to preserve the practice.
The SEC university presidents/chancellors unanimously agreed to reduce the yearly scholarship limit from 28 to 25 at the conference's meetings, according to SEC commissioner Mike Slive. The conference's 12 coaches, who did not get an official vote in the matter, all spoke out in favor of keeping the current 28-scholarship rule earlier this week.
With the new rule, SEC football coaches will be allowed to sign 25 new players between Dec. 1 and Aug. 1 of each year. The previous 28-scholarship limit had applied only to players signed between the February national signing day and the end of May—a loophole some SEC coaches egregiously exploited in order to sign 30+ players in a class.
That said, the practice of grayshirting—asking student-athletes to delay their scholarships until the following January—will still be allowed under the new rule.
The conference proposed a rule that would count summer enrollees against a school's scholarship total for the next academic year, but that rule was not adopted due to heavy pushback from the coaches. That provision may have been inspired by former LSU recruit Elliott Porter, who had enrolled in summer school at LSU only to find out the team didn't have a scholarship available for him. Porter transferred to Kentucky, redshirted for the Wildcats for a year, and has since transferred back to LSU, as a walk-on for the Tigers' football team.
"No one wants to win more than I do," Slive said, according to The Birmingham News. "But you don't want to win at the expense of young people. You want to win for them."
The SEC now plans to file a motion to NCAA President Mark Emmert to suggest that the NCAA adopts the new 25-player cap as a national standard. Two years ago, the SEC first enacted the 28-scholarship cap; the NCAA passed it as a national standard earlier this year.