Friday, January 07, 2011

One Thought on Oversigning

The Senator's post on the possibility of the NCAA acting to rein in oversigning is interesting because of the political implications. Here is the concluding paragraph:

It’s hard to see how that changes. And if that’s the case, how long is it before Jim Delany decides he has no choice but to lead the charge to get the NCAA to tighten up the rules on class signing numbers? No doubt he’d couch it in terms of doing what’s best for the student athletes, but we’d all know what that’s really about. And it would be fascinating to see where the battle lines get drawn in that fight – the Big East and the mid-major conferences would seem to be natural allies for Delany, but would the Pac-10 and Big XII commissioners stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Mike Slive?
The programs that ought to be the most aggressive in condemning oversigning are Florida and Georgia. The Gators and Dawgs don't oversign, but they compete in the same conference for the same titles as the worst oversigning offenders. Thus, they stand to benefit the most from closing this loophole and denying their competitors the advantage of an extra recruiting class every five years. Georgia and Florida ought to be in Mike Slive's ear about the practice, which would cause the SEC Commissioner to be neutral in the event that legislation is discussed on the NCAA level. At that point, there would be no committed opponent against Jim Delany if he tried to push through legislation that would create a hard 85-scholarship cap that applies throughout the year as opposed to the beginning of the season.

(Get ready for an analogy that will be uncomfortable for people in Alabama and Mississippi in 3, 2, 1...)

There is an analogy to be made between efforts to end oversigning and the efforts to end Jim Crow laws. In both instances, a minority of entities were engaged in an exploitative practice to further their own self-interest. (Note the states where oversigning takes place and see if there is something of a correlation with the states that engaged in massive resistance to Brown v. Board.) The practice went on for a period of time until attention from the national media turned the minority of entities into outliers subject to intensifying criticism. Without the ability to filibuster NCAA legislation, I suspect that the schools that engage in oversigning will meet a similar fate.


Anonymous said...

Man, you had me until you had to bring race into it. I will never understand why otherwise level-headed people will bring race into a discussion about oversigning, or cooking, or ornithology, or...well, you get py point...when their arguments can be made perfectly well without muddying the water with such an emotional topic.

Robert said...

Yes, it's pure coincidence that Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas had the most resistance to the civil rights movement, and Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas are the worst offenders of oversigning.

No one's saying that Nick Saban is a racist, but the post is dead on.

Mike said...

Well put, Michael. And your civil rights era analogy is not only fair but appropriate and highly relevant.

Oversigning is a highly immoral and unethical practice that, intentionally or not, ends up harming young African-Americans in the South much more disproportionately than it does others.

Ell said...

OK - full disclosure - I'm a Bama fan.

And, I agree that oversigning is an issue that - from a point of fairness - needs some consideration.

HOWEVER, comparing it to Jim Crow laws is just asinine.

If anything, I would argue that the existence of Jim Crow laws in the south means that this practice happens more frequently (vis a vis the impact of race discrimination on school performance, and therefore, lack of qualifying... and oversigning).

Furthermore, there is much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth for the "victims" of oversigning. every single student from the University of Alabama that has left the football team as a "victim" of oversigning has either had his full undergraduate education paid for at the University or elsewhere.

The ONLY exceptions to that rule were charged with felonies.

I really do fail to see where that makes these kids victims - any more than just not playing the kid would.

Other than the holier than thou "they were lied to during recruiting" BS, I don't see how these kids are harmed.

Michael said...

Ell, I'm not saying that oversigning is on the level of Jim Crow or anything like that. The key element of the analogy is simply that both instances involved a small number of entities engaging in a practice not employed by the majority. In the instance of the Civil Rights Movement, increasing media outside of the South caused the rest of the country to band together to enact laws that ended Jim Crow. It caused entities with a lower intensity of preference to move against discrimination. I could see a similar phenomenon happening with oversigning. The schools that oversign are a minority and they have a greater intensity of preference in favor than the non-oversigning schools have to oppose. However, with increasing attention on the practice, I'd guess that the majority are ultimately going to end oversigning.

As for the impact on players, are you seriously going to contend that having to transfer and sit out a year in order to play isn't a major negative? The bargain between schools and players has always been that players do not have full freedom of movement and in return, the school will keep them for four years if things don't pan out on the field. Each side gets a benefit. Now, coaches like Saban (and the possible incoming coach at my alma mater) have removed the benefit to players, which tilts the equation even farther in favor of football programs and away from players.

By the way, I agree with your first point. Some of the rhetoric regarding oversigning is overheated. It's not as if Alabama signs a bunch of extra players and Nick Saban decides who stays and who goes. In many cases, the invisible hand makes the decision, namely the effects of players coming from atrocious high school systems.