MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Southeastern Conference made changes to its two biggest cash cows, basketball and football, Friday that left some coaches very angry.
School presidents and chancellors voted to eliminate divisions in men’s basketball and to reduce the annual signing class limits in football from 28 to 25. Coaches had voted to keep the number at 28.
It’s the second issue that drew the ire of high-profile coaches like Nick Saban and others. The change came about after SEC schools like Ole Miss signed more than 30 players to scholarships despite not having enough scholarships to cover the signings.
Ole Miss, and other SEC schools, would utilize what became known as gray-shirting, and sending athletes to prep schools and junior colleges. While some schools across the country did this, the SEC was the most egregious about it, especially the Ole Miss case.
Some schools would encourage current students to transfer or leave the program to allow the new recruits in the over-signed class to take their spots, although the school would never overtly say they needed the current students’ scholarship for a new recruit.
In addition to the scholarship limit, the SEC did away with back counting which allowed schools to count JUCO transfers against the previous year’s limit.
Saban was not happy about the signing limit and spoke for a handful of SEC coaches who opposed the new limit.
“You’re going to mess up kids’ opportunities by doing what you’re doing,” Saban said. “You think you’re helping them, but you’re really hurting them.”
In addition to the new limits, the SEC said that a student-athlete must have at least two years of eligibility remaining to transfer to an SEC school. This was enacted after former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli transferred to Ole Miss in 2010 to play one year of football for the Rebels.
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