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Monday, June 6, 2011
B1G pleased with SEC oversigning change

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Last week was a rough one for the Big Ten as Ohio State dominated the headlines for mostly the wrong reasons, but the league got some good news on Friday.

From the SEC, of all places.

The SEC presidents and chancellors voted Friday to reduce the number of scholarship football players teams can sign each year from 28 to 25. Although not a cure-all, it's an important step toward curbing the practice of oversigning, which the Big Ten banned in 1956. The debate about oversigning has intensified in recent months, and many view the SEC as the worst offender.

Not surprisingly, the Big Ten was pleased with the news out of Destin, Fla.

"The current national rule is ineffective," Big Ten associate commissioner for compliance Chad Hawley told ESPN.com, "so to the extent the SEC or any other conference were to take steps to curb the practice, that's a good thing."

The SEC coaches voted unanimously to keep the signing limit at 28, but the presidents and chancellors overruled them. University of Florida president Bernie Machen, who had been vocal in his criticism of oversigning, said he's "proud of the step we've taken really in a leadership role nationally to deal with this bigger concept of roster management."

The Big Ten in many ways already had taken the lead against oversigning, but it helps that other leagues are exploring the issue.

So where does the debate go from here?

"If they were to move forward with proposing national legislation, that would be an opportunity to talk about what the best approach to managing the issue would be," Hawley said. "Beyond that, we feel good about where we are, how we addressed the issue with our rule. I think it's a good thing that any conference, in the absence of a national rule, takes the initiative to manage the situation. That's good."

While Hawley thinks a national rule would provide competitive equity, the greater benefit, he said, would be with student-athlete welfare. The Big Ten and other leagues are exploring ways to enhance student-athlete welfare, including scholarship restructuring that would allocate more resources to athletes.

"The student-athlete welfare piece of it is pretty compelling," Hawley said.