25 Maximum: False Alarm?

Submitted by Brian on December 9th, 2009 at 2:32 PM

So… yeah: someone in Michigan's compliance department got the idea that there had been a rule change and that Michigan would not be able to cram more than the NCAA-mandated maximum of 25 players into this recruiting class, and from this person the idea spread to Sam Webb and Rivals and Tom VanHaaren, all of whom talked to similar folk in compliance and got the same answer: rule change, 25 is a hard maximum, no funny stuff with the early enrollers.

This made no sense when combined with recent events. Michigan offered sleeper safety Ray Vinopal and instate NT Jonathan Hankins and got back involved with a half-dozen other prospects, including Pahokee DT Richard Ash and a bunch of Californians. The numbers weren't going to add up.

Further probing has finally revealed the hypothetical rule change to be inaccurate. Probably. An email from the Big Ten's director of compliance indicates there has been no rule change. A small snippet of a longer reply from this official posted on the Rivals premium board:

Nothing has changed, although you’ve never been able to “backdate” and count a student-athlete (SA) in a year in which they weren’t in attendance. What I suspect you’re thinking of is the fact that mid-year enrollees (except SAs receiving aid under the “mid-year replacement” rule?described below) count against the overall limit of 85, but may count against the initial limit of 25 in either the year of initial enrollment (if there’s room) or in the year immediately following.

I guess there's some chance that this is not definitive, but it is this guy's job to know these things and he has explicitly shot down the idea that anything has changed. And it was always very strange that this fairly important change to recruiting rules would go without a single mention in a newspaper, or get brought up by any other fanbase. I'm guessing a few people got confused in compliance for some reason and started this whole thing. It's the simplest explanation.

Anyway: since the Big Ten is not imposing a 25-per-class limit—Penn State enrolled 27 freshmen last year—Michigan should be able to go to 28. This makes Michigan's recruiting binge of late seem much saner from the outside. With Donovan Warren probably off to the NFL and Brandon Smith probably off to some other school, Michigan is obviously planning to take a full 28.

Take the current commits, add in expected commits from MD LB Josh Furman, FL CB Tony Grimes, and FL DE Clarence Murphy, and plan for an inevitable decommit or guy who doesn't look like he'll qualify and finds his offer withdrawn*, and you're looking at two or three more guys in this class. If Michigan can go to 28, that works out just fine. If they can't, Michigan's already at  –1 slots and is steaming full speed ahead into an uncomfortable first couple months of 2009. Occam's Razor says it's 28, and Michigan intends to get there.

*(Which, BTW, seems okay by me. If a player isn't eligible by the time his first-semester senior grades are in I think a school is within its rights to say "sorry, but we can't take the chance." I'd rather not see Michigan in a spot where they took a marginal guy with marginal grades, but offers are contingent on grades.)



December 9th, 2009 at 2:48 PM ^

Is it possible that the Michigan compliance staff doesn't know that this rule hasn't been changed? Would they still be operating under false assumptions?

We must inform them! Fans must take action! Go, MGoBlog Go!


December 9th, 2009 at 3:04 PM ^

It doesn't sound to me like the compliance department screwed anything up, but more like miscommunication over the definition of a term. This is kind of a leap, I guess, but this is the sentence that makes me think this:

Nothing has changed, although you’ve never been able to “backdate” and count a student-athlete (SA) in a year in which they weren’t in attendance

To me it sounds like the compliance department just thinks of early enrollment as counting for the current year instead of next year, while Scout/Rivals/MGoBlog/etc thinks of it as last year instead of the current year. If that is the mindset they have, hearing the term "backdate" would sound like the person was referring to the school year before the athlete enrolled, which is a definite no.


December 9th, 2009 at 3:09 PM ^

Michigan Compliance Department Oblivious to Oversigning Rule

by Michael Rosenberg

The story isn't out yet, so I can only give you a few excerpts:

If convicted of recruiting violations, Michigan could be subject to NCAA sanctions, including loss of scholarship and forfeiture of games.

The Free Press spoke with several incoming Michigan recruits and their parents, who said they were surprised Rodriguez didn't make them aware of the scholarship limits.

"This is news to us," said Maria Gardner, mother of Inkster Quarterback Devin, who committed to Michigan earlier this year. "Those things you say don't sound at all like the Richard Rodriguez we know."

Running back commit Austin White, who chose the Wolverines over MSU even though the Spartans are clearly better than Michigan right now and it's not like they really wanted him anyway, also said he was "surprised" when reporters told him Michigan's compliance department had no idea what they are doing.

"I have nothing but ... hate on Rich-Rod and the entire staff up at Michigan, who have been very ... lies," White told reporters.

a reporter offering fellatio to a potential recruit would not be considered a recruiting violation if the reporter is not in any way affiliated with the university or program.


December 9th, 2009 at 3:10 PM ^

Why would anybody take the word of the same compliance department that sold out Artis Chambers and whiffed on the time cards?

Good to see you guys looking for info from a second source in this case....seems like a pretty confusing issue to begin with

Blue In NC

December 9th, 2009 at 3:43 PM ^

Honestly, I would like to see some compliance reports from the compliance department. The kind that say "yes, our employees do know the rules and have been supplied with the requisite training; yes, we acknowledge that our department failed to monitor the filing of compliance reports and yes, we may have played some role in the problems experienced by Chambers and Witherspoon (not that we need talented LBs or anything). In short, we have identified that we have performed many of our core functions in a substandard manner."

Sorry, I can't help but be bitter about this whole mess.


December 9th, 2009 at 3:11 PM ^

A few things in play.

NCAA allows no more than 25 in a class. Big 10 allows you to sign 3 more than you have room for, but you can still only enroll 25.

NCAA allows backdating early enrollees to the previous class if it wasn't full. We should have 4-5 spots still available in the '09 class. However, it seems that you can *ALSO* only do this if we are under the 85 limit. RR talked about not having a scholly to give to Kovacs, because they had all already been given out. If we're at 85 - I don't think we can backdate anybody, and we're stuck at 25.

If not, we should be able to back date 4 or 5, putting us at 29-30. I don't understand why the number 28 is relevant to the number of people we can enroll.

Does anyone know of a definitive list of what players were are currently on scholarship? (including walk ons)


December 9th, 2009 at 3:59 PM ^

Here's the current roster including walkons:


I'm pretty sure last year's class was 22 so that gives us three that can still be used. The 85 scholarship issue can be addressed by not bringing back a few fifth years. Getting to 28 openings shouldn't be a problem if we have enough talented prospects that we want to sign.


December 10th, 2009 at 8:24 AM ^

This is about semantics, and I believe people are thinking about, or posing the question in a way that confuses others.

Compliance says you cannot backdate. The rule is a little vague, but essentially says: if a student enrolls during this school year (i.e., in January, the second semester of the '09-'10 school year), then that student can be counted towards this school year's maximum of 25 (i.e., it is still this same school year so they are not backdating), or next year's maximum of twenty five. In neither case are they being backdated.

If there was no rule change, and Penn State could sign 27, then we can sign 28.


December 9th, 2009 at 3:12 PM ^

Great to finally get some good news. Also nice to get this issue cleared up once and for all (hopefully).

I would echo the concerns with our compliance department, though. How do you essentially invent a rule that limits how many players your school can enroll? Hopefully this whole thing was the result of miscommunication between a low level staff member and the media, and not an indication of massive office-wide confusion.

matty blue

December 9th, 2009 at 3:21 PM ^

cue the frantic "our compliance office sucks, we're doomed we're doomed we're doomed aaaaaaaah!" posts, in 3...2...1...

oops, looks like we're getting there already. never mind.


December 9th, 2009 at 3:25 PM ^

It is nice to finally hear some good news. Lately, when I come to this cite (admittedly more times per day than my bosses would probably care for), I instinctively cup my hands in such a way to protect my dong from the expected punch.


December 9th, 2009 at 3:36 PM ^

First: Why couldn't we theoretically go to 29 or 30 as long as we had enough early enrollees to keep us at or below 25 enrolling in August? In other words, are you sure the B10's 28 max. rule isn't limited to 'athletes signed for August enrollment?'

Second, I wonder if by any chance the compliance person who got this wrong is in any way related to the one who "forgot" to tell the coaches the hourly reports had to be filed monthly or quarterly or whatever?


December 9th, 2009 at 3:54 PM ^

I'm pretty sure you are right.

We have three open slots from the last class, so we could apply three to 2009 and offer 28 for 2010. However of the 28 only 25 could end up with scholarships. The remaining three would have to greyshirt. That would mean we could technically make 31 work, but keep in mind we would be limiting ourselves with open scholarships for 2011.

If actually brought in 31, meaning three greyshirted and received scholarships next season, that would mean we would only have 10 openings for the 2011 class (assuming no further attrition.) I'm not sure if we want to have that small a class for balance reasons.


December 9th, 2009 at 3:56 PM ^

Michigan were in another conference. But you are still handcuffed by the 25 scholarships in an academic year. Here is the breakdown in the Big Ten. You are allowed 28 signed Letters of Intent per signing period and you are allowed 25 scholarships in a academic year.

So in the 2010 Football signing period, Michigan will have 28 recruits sign LOI's and will plan to have at least 3 enroll early so their scholarship can be counted in the 2009-2010 academic year. The remaining 25 scholarships will be counted in the 2010-2011 academic year.

What that means going forward is that by using all 25 scholarships in the 2010-2011 academic year, we will not be able to have any 2011 recruits who enroll in Jan. 2011 count in the 2010 numbers.


December 10th, 2009 at 2:52 PM ^

Your assertation that 28 is a maximum is wrong. Michigan can take 28 becuase they only took 22 this year (Witty, Hill, Spoon not making it in). So 3 guys are 'backdated' and counted in the 2009 class under the NCAA definition of '25 per year'. The rest go on the 2010 class. And all of these guys get scholarships. None of them have to greyshirt.
If Michigan only took, say 20 in the fall this year, then they could have a class of 30 guys. The 2-year #'s just have to add up to 50 provided you dont go over the 85-limit.


December 9th, 2009 at 5:27 PM ^

I realize that the reason for over-signing is that some kids may fail to qualify. But what happens if, contrary to expectations, they do all qualify? I was under the impression that an LOI is binding on the school, provided the student meets all of the academic requirements and isn't disqualified for some other concrete reason.

Can the school force a greyshirt on an athlete who doesn't want one, or just say, "Sorry...it turns out the inn is full"?


December 9th, 2009 at 6:40 PM ^

just recently posted that the 25 man limit that has been bandied about is NOT an NCAA rule, nor is it a Big 10 rule, but UM is self-imposing a limit of 25 offers for this recruiting class.

I hope this is incorrect, but it would not surprise me to see the UM athletic department do something really stupid like this simply to prove that UM is "better" than those miserable, "win-at-all-costs" type programs (read: Everyone else)


December 11th, 2009 at 3:44 PM ^

It seemed that the other schools also "heard" of the same rule change rumor but no one received an official notice. So the general rule of thumb is, you work under the last notification until you receive the update. That is what I believe the Michigan coaches are doing.

Also it would appear that to impose such a significant change and make it retroactive without prior notice is counter productive to the league and the ncaa teams. In other words, that would be just bad business practice. So I am glad this apparently not the case.

Bronco Joe

December 18th, 2009 at 1:53 PM ^

Why is the limit 28? Wasn't there at least 3 or 4 early enrollees last year? Forcier and Campbell come to mind. Could they be counted against the 2008 recruiting class? Maybe there are more openings than even 28.