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SEC Meeting To Consider Controversial Topics

Mile Slive, SEC Commissioner will present new plan for roster management at the league's meeting.

The South Eastern Conference is conducting the league's annual meeting all this week in Destin, Florida. The league's presidents, athletic directors, and coaches will be looking at several controversial issues that could bring major changes to the way the SEC operates.

On the agenda are three possible major changes to SEC Rules. The first item (and maybe the easiest to reach an agreement on) would be the reseeding of the SEC Basketball Tournament based on overall league records, along with the doing away with divisional play.

Also to be looked at is whether athletic scholarships should cover the full cost of a student-athlete's attendance. The Big Ten Commissioner recently proposed the addition of up to $5,000 to existing scholarships to cover non room-and-board expenses.

Mike Slive, SEC Commissioner has gone on record this week saying he believes that it's one of those issues whose time has come. So it will be interesting to see if anything comes out of this week's meetings addressing scholarship increases or compensation for players.

Yet probably the most controversial subject to be addressed will be the issue of "over signing."

Over signing is the practice of signing more football players than the NCAA 85 limit allows. The total of 85 is the maximum number a program can have on their roster when fall football practice begins.

Schools that sign more than the normal 25 athletes do so to hedge against possible roster depletions that come with normal attrition.

Coaches have to have some plan to address that attrition because players leave programs every year for various reasons. Some leave on their own, some leave for financial reasons, some for injuries, while some come out for the draft, and others graduate early giving up their final year of eligibility.

At present, if a school's roster has more than 85 athletes at the beginning of fall practice then some players may have to be assigned to either redshirt or greyshirt years. The grey shirt is where the rub comes. Grey shirt athletes have to pay their own way till a scholarship opens up.

There has been a lot written about the controversial practice in the past couple of years; since the SEC is one of the leaders in over signing and especially since the SEC has won five National Football Championships in a row. Consequently some see the SEC's practice of over signing as giving the league an unfair advantage.

Nevertheless, this is not the first time that the SEC has addressed the issue. The league passed a rule in 2009 that limited football signees to 28, with 25 allowed to enroll for fall-semester classes. SEC Associate Commissioner Charles Bloom said the Commissioner is most interested in,

"looking out for the best interest of the student-athlete. There are cases we have heard in the past that make an argument for over signing. Things happen during the summer prior to practice, or a student-athlete will leave on his own volition, and that will create a gap in the numbers. Over signing, in that regard, takes care of that."

"What we don't want to have happen is a student-athlete be displaced against his own choice after signing his letter of intent. There are different issues involved, and the conference has looked at this pretty in depth."

I think everyone can agree with that statement and I'm glad that the league has looked at it "pretty in depth." But I'm always nervous when the SEC or NCAA starts tweaking existing rules.

I just hope that when the dust settles from this one that they got it right. Because new rules that hamper the league's members, could do more harm than good. Or in other words ... "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."