Changes approved

The Southeastern Conference spring meetings concluded on Friday and there will be several changes going forward with one focusing solely on college football recruiting.

In the past, schools were able to sign as many players as they liked even though the NCAA mandated that only 25 student athletes from each signing class can be on scholarship when the players report for fall camp.


Several schools have made a habit of oversigning, but when Ole Miss signed 37 this past February it may have gone too far. Other schools also went above the limit of 25 this past year, including South Carolina (29), Arkansas (31) and Kentucky (30), while Auburn, Alabama and South Carolina signed 27 apiece.


Schools would knowingly sign more prospects than they had room for since there would be some who would not qualify academically then they would place them at a junior college or prep school, giving them an advantage in some cases when they pursued the prospect again down the road.


Those days, however, are over.


On Friday, the SEC passed legislation that limits teams to 28 signees and that goes into effect immediately for the current – 2010 – signing class.


“The presidents and chancellors view the signing of a letter-of-intent as a commitment by a student-athlete capable of being academically admitted and can contribute athletically,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “Coaches have their own decisions for signing a player, but the chancellors believe this is an academic-educational decision when someone signs.”


The conference also passed legislation that would make the rule apply to all of the schools representing the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks, but that would need to be passed by the NCAA before it applies to other conferences. The SEC joins the Big Ten as two conferences that are now regulating the number of signees a school can have.


Another rule that the SEC is proposing for the NCAA regarding football is that graduate assistants that coach on the field must be no more than seven years removed from getting their baccalaureate degree or completing their athletic eligibility. If passed the SEC would like for those currently serving in that capacity to be grandfathered in, but would apply to all new appointments.


The SEC also passed another rule for NCAA consideration that would put an end to schools being able to play Junior Varsity games against prep schools or junior colleges that have recruits on them. Tennessee and Kentucky are currently two SEC schools that still play JV games.


In other news Friday, the SEC had another record year of revenue of $132.5 million distributed by the league, which was an increase of 4 percent.


Each SEC school will receive $11.1 million, but the pool is expected to rise next year when the new TV deals with CBS and ESPN kick in with a projected $16.6 million for each school.

The $132.5 million came from football television ($52 million), bowls ($25.4 million), the SEC football championship ($14.3 million), basketball television ($13.6 million), SEC men’s basketball tournament ($4.1 million) and the NCAA championships ($23.1 million).


The recession that has rocked the entire country was also part of the discussion this past week.


When the recession kicked in nationwide late last year the season football ticket packages had been sold, but Slive expects that even though the recession is being felt more widespread that football stadiums will still be at capacity despite the new TV contract that calls for all conference football games and all nonconference football home games to be televised.


“There’s no safe harbor from the recession,” Slive said. “But if history teaches us, we’ve had extraordinary attendance the last 20 years. Last year, we had 6.7 million fans at our games. We averaged over 75,000 people. We filled stadiums to 98 percent capacity. That’s the real strength of the SEC. Television is a byproduct of that strength.”


Men’s and women’s basketball will also benefit from the new TV contracts as men’s basketball will have six televised games per week on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, while women’s basketball will have 72 televised games during the season.

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