Over-Signing in College Football: Why Does It Occur?
Keywords:Recruiting, College Football, Intercollegiate Athletics, Coaching
AbstractThis 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.
Associated Press. (1981, January 14). ACC, SEC early signing date abolished: NCAA sacks motion to eliminate 'full rides'. Spartanburg Herald, p. B2.
Auerbach, N. & Prisbell, E. (2012, November 6). College basketball's free agency era. USA Today Sports. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2012/11/06/ncaa-mens-college-basketball-transfers/1679115/
Bachman, R. (2011, November 4). The super bowl of 'oversigning'. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970203716204577016110526669958
Barnhart, T. (2003, January 26). Recruiting becomes increasingly negative. Gadsden Times, p. B6.
Bateman, J. D. (2011). When the numbers don't add up: Oversigning in college football. Marquette University Law School, 22(1), 7-23.
Berkowitz, S. (2013, December 12). College football assistant coaches also have bonuses and perks. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2013/12/12/college-football-assistant-coaches-contracts-bonuses-perks/3997539/
Botkin, B. (2016, February 8). Five years later, SEC not hurt by its football recruiting signing cap. CBS Sports. Retrieved from http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/five-years-later-sec-not-hurt-by-its-football-recruiting-signing-cap/
Byers, W. (1995). Unsportsmanlike conduct: Exploiting college athletes. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press. https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.14486
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Sage.
Cooper, K. (1996). What the basketball recruit wants to know. Coach and Athletic Director, 65(7), 24-26.
Donohue, T. (2014, March 10). Pros and cons to an early signing period for college football. Retrieved from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1987162-pros-and-cons-to-an-early-signing-period-for-college-football
Dosh, K. (2013). Saturday millionaires: How winning football builds winning colleges. New York, NY: Turner Publishing Company/Wiley General Trade.
Doyel, G. (2010, August 8). Bad guys utilize over-signing, and it has to stop. Retrieved from http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/story/13727507/bad-guys-utilize-oversigning-and-it-has-to-stop
Dumond, J. M., Lynch, A. K., & Platania, J. (2008). An economic model of the college football recruiting process. Journal of Sports Economics, 9(1), 67-87. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527002506298125
Eitzen, D. S. (2015). Sport in contemporary society: An anthology. (10th Ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Felder, M. (2012, August 24). College football: Oversigning is a lazy reason for sec dominance. Retrieved from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1309711-college-football-oversigning-is-a-lazy-reason-for-sec-dominance
Feldman, B. (2007). Meat market: Inside the smash-mouth world of college football recruiting. New York, NY: ESPN Books.
Ferris, E., Finster, M., & McDonald, D. (2004). Academic fit of student-athletes: An analysis of NCAA division IA graduation rates. Research in Higher Education, 45(6), 555-575. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:RIHE.0000040263.39209.84
Fondren, K. (2010). Sport and stigma: College football recruiting and institutional identity of Ole Miss. Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, 2010(3), 154-175.
Glaser, B.G., & Strauss, A.L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago, IL: Aldine.
Gordon, K. (2011, February 13). College football: Rules on oversigning put big ten at a disadvantage. Retrieved from http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/sports/2011/02/13/rules-on-oversigning-put-big-ten-at-a-disadvantage.html
Hamilton, A. (2016, June 16). Four-star DT Juan Harris decommits from Iowa for a third time. Des Moines Register. Retrieved from http://usatodayhss.com/2016/four-star-dt-juan-harris-decommits-from-iowa-for-a-third-time
Hill, K., Burch-Ragan, K. M., & Yates, D. Y. (2001). Current and future issues and trends facing student athletes and athletic programs. New Directions for Student Services, 2001(93), 65-80. https://doi.org/10.1002/ss.6
Hinnen, J. (2014, March 8). Stanford's David Shaw blasts possible early signing period. CBS Sports. Retrieved from http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/eye-on-college-football/24473640/stanfords-david-shaw-blasts-possible-early-signing-period
Hinton, M. (2010, April 4). LSU's ship has two men too many, so Elliott Porter walks the plank. Yahoo Sports. Retrieved from http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/LSU-s-ship-has-two-men-too-many-so-Elliott-Port?urn=ncaaf,260264
Hosick, M. B. (2012, February 17). Multiyear scholarships to be allowed. NCAA.com. Retrieved from http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/article/2012-02-17/multiyear-scholarships-be-allowed
Huguenin, M. (2011, December 18). More than ever, coaches must win right away. Yahoo Sports, Retrieved from http://sports.yahoo.com/news/more-ever-coaches-must-win-001900841--ncaaf.html;_ylt=A0LEVxfDMX5TcTQATUVXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEzNWRvZHA2BHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDQyMV8x
Infante, J. (2011, June 13). Oversigning and NCAA federalism. National Collegiate Athletic Association Bylaw Blog, Retrieved from http://blog.ncaa.org/blog/2011/06/oversigning-and-ncaa-federalism/
Johnson, G. (2011, March 3). Football issues committee to monitor oversigning. Retrieved from http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/NCAANewsArchive/2011/march/football%2Bissues%2Bcommittee%2Bto%2Bmonitor%2Boversigningdf30.html
Karp, H., & Everson, D. (2011, March 1). SEC coaches defend 'oversigning'. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704444604576172954187357370
Klenosky, D. B., Templin, T. J., & Troutman, J. A. (2001). Recruiting student athletes: A means-end investigation of school-choice decision making. Journal of Sport Management, 15(2), 95-106. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsm.15.2.95
Langelett, G. (2003). The relationship between recruiting and team performance in Division 1A college football. Journal of Sports Economics, 4(3), 240-245. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527002503253478
Letawsky, N. R., Schneider, R. G., Pedersen, P. M., & Palmer, C. J. (2003). Factors influencing the college selection process of student-athletes: Are their factors similar to non-athletes? College Student Journal, 37(4), 604-610.
Machen, J. B. (2011, February 1). Florida president: Greyshirting is morally reprehensible practice. Retrieved from http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/football/ncaa/01/31/bernard.machen.letter/index.html
Markula, P., & Silk, M. (2011). Qualitative research for physical culture. London, England: Palgrave MacMillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230305632
NCAA. (2017). Frequently asked questions about the NCAA. NCAA.org. Retrieved from http://www.ncaa.org/about/frequently-asked-questions-about-ncaa#schola
NCAA Academic and Membership Affairs Staff. (2016). 2016-2017 NCAA Division I Manual. Indianapolis, IN: The National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Paule-Koba, A. (April, 2014). Identifying athlete's majors and career aspirations: The next step in clustering research. College Sport Research Institute Conference on College Sport, Columbia, SC.
Richardson, J.T.E. (1999). The concepts and methods of phenomenographic research. Review of Educational Research, 69, pp. 53-82. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543069001053
Sartore-Baldwin, M., & Warner, S. (2012). Perceptions of justice within intercollegiate athletics among current and former athletes. Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, 2012(5), 269-282.
Smith, J. M., & Willingham, M. (2015). Cheated: The UNC scandal, the education of athletes, and the future of big-time college sports. Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books.
Solomon, J. (2014, September 16). Schools can give out 4-year athletic scholarships, but many don't. CBS Sports. Retrieved from http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/schools-can-give-out-4-year-athletic-scholarships-but-many-dont/
Solomon, J. (2016, January 27). 'It's all business:' Jim Harbaugh and his disappearing Michigan commits. CBS Sports. Retrieved from http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/its-all-business-jim-harbaugh-and-his-disappearing-michigan-commits/
Southall, R. M., Nagel, M. S., Wallace, A., & Sexton, M. (2016). 2016 Adjusted Graduation Gap report: NCAA FBS football. Retrieved from College Sport Research Institute: csri-sc.org
Staples, A. (2009, May 29). New SEC ban means oversigning is nearing its end nationwide. SportsIllustrated.com. Retrieved from http://www.si.com/moresports/2009/05/29/oversigning.
Staples, A. (2011a, January 24). Oversigning by the numbers. SportsIllustrated.com, Retrieved from http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/andy_staples/01/24/oversigning-data/
Staples, A. (2011b, January 24). Oversigning offenders won't be curbed by NCAA's toothless rule. SportsIllustrated.com Retrieved from http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/andy_staples/01/24/oversigning/index.html
Towers, C. (2011, February 24). 'Shoved away' due to oversigning, Lorenzo Mauldin still hopes to end up at South Carolina. Atlanta Journal Constitutional. Retrieved from http://blogs.ajc.com/recruiting/2011/02/24/shoved-away-due-to-oversigning-lorenzo-mauldin-still-hopes-to-end-up-at-south-carolina/?cxntfid=blogs_recruiting
Tracy, S. J. (2010). Qualitative quality: Eight "big-ten" criteria for excellent qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(10), 837-851. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800410383121
Whiteside, K. (2011, February 1). Rules fail to curb schools from oversigning football players. Retrieved from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/2011-01-31recruiting-schools-oversigning_N.html