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The Big Ten's take on oversigning, Part II

2/1/2011

Here's the second half of my discussion with Big Ten associate commissioner Chad Hawley on the hot topic of oversigning in college football recruiting.

Also check out Part I.

Do you have any sense of how Big Ten coaches feel about oversigning, especially when they see coaches from other leagues acknowledging it's a competitive advantage?

Chad Hawley: It's pretty safe to say if the day were to ever come where oversigning was not allowed, we would all be pleased with that for a variety of reasons. Part of it is competitive, part of it is welfare.

How comfortable are the coaches with the Big Ten's current policy?

CH: They played an important role in us having the limit of three [players oversigned]. Prior to 2002, we just flat out did not allow oversigning. They do recognize others sign more and they see that as a disadvantage, but they're also looking at their own rosters. They're coming into the fall and maybe having 82 or 83 people on scholarship, so they're looking at it from a roster-management perspective as well, wanting to get to the fall fully staffed at 85 student-athletes on scholarship. They were in tune with it. I can only assume that they pay attention to competitors nationally, but really it was taking a look at how their own rosters were looking.

It's hard to predict the future, but where do you see this issue going? Are there any important moves on the horizon?

CH: I don't think you can deny the speed that it's picking up. Will that translate into national legislation? I'm not sure. I'm friends with Greg Sankey down at the SEC and I've seen some of his quotes where they're discussing maybe doing something further. Is the conversation picking up speed, not only in the media but other conferences? It seems like it could be. But we just had a baseball proposal shot down.

It seems like it all ultimately goes back to the individual conferences being on board, doesn't it?

CH: Exactly. Would the Big Ten welcome a scenario where there's a national limit on oversigning? Of course we would. But just because that's been a philosophy in our conference for over 50 years doesn't necessarily mean we could go out and get everyone else to adopt it. One is the appropriateness of wanting to impart your philosophy on others. The other is just the reality of whether that could get adopted.

How appropriate is lobbying in a case like this one?

CH: It's just something we haven't done aside from the baseball proposal. We recognize that we're being more restrictive than what the NCAA rules expressly allow. That's just consistent with how we'd like to operate.