Over-Signing in College Football: Why Does It Occur?


  • Robert Turick University of Florida
  • Amanda Paule-Koba Bowling Green State University




Recruiting, College Football, Intercollegiate Athletics, Coaching


This study sought to determine what factors influence the decision-making processes of college football coaches when over-signing a recruiting class and/or roster. NCAA Bylaws limit the number of scholarships Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) members can award for their program (85) and annually (25) in recruiting. Over-signing is the term used to describe the practice of college programs signing prospective collegiate athletes to a National Letter of Intent (NLI) that may exceed the maximum number of athletic scholarships permitted by the NCAA, or when a team brings in a recruiting class that pushes the team’s number of players on scholarship past 85. This action results in coaching staffs taking a scholarship away from a returning player or later informing an incoming player he will not be extended a scholarship. Although many sport journalists have written about this issue (Bachman, 2011; Doyel, 2010; Feldman, 2007; Gordon, 2011; Towers, 2011; Whiteside, 2011), it has not yet been examined through an empirical study. Seventeen college football coaches and personnel staff were interviewed for this study. Our findings show that over-signing occurs because it is an accepted practice that can give coaches a competitive advantage, while also compensating for general attrition and indecisive recruits.


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