Most of SEC supports new NCAA rule for multiyear scholarships

jerickson@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 23, 2012 

AUBURN, Ala. -- The majority of the SEC voted to support the NCAA’s new rule that allows schools to offer multiyear scholarships in last week’s failed attempt to override the rule, according to a document posted online Wednesday by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The document revealed the votes of the 330 schools that voted on a possible override, a measure that failed by just two votes Friday.

“I am pleased that student-athletes will continue to benefit from the ability of institutions to offer athletics aid for more than one year, but it’s clear that there are significant portions of the membership with legitimate concerns,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said Friday.

“As we continue to examine implementation of the rule, we want to work with the membership to address those concerns.”

The NCAA gave schools the ability to choose whether to offer multiyear scholarships or one-year renewable scholarships last fall.

Two teams in the SEC already have taken advantage of the rule.

Auburn and Florida signed their 2012 recruiting classes to multiyear scholarships after the NCAA passed the measure in October.

The multiyear scholarships Auburn offered cannot be revoked for athletic performance, a change that proponents say gives student-athletes more security than one-year renewable scholarships.

“I don’t know how that’s going to pan out going forward, to be honest with you,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said on national signing day.

“Certainly, if one school chooses to do it and another doesn’t, it creates some sort of advantage or disadvantage depending on which one you are.”

Enough NCAA schools were concerned about the possibility of a recruiting advantage that they forced the NCAA to put the new rule to an override vote.

But the majority of the SEC followed Auburn’s and Florida’s lead in the vote. Ten SEC schools -- Auburn, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky and new conference member Missouri -- voted in support of upholding the ability of schools to grant multiyear scholarships. Alabama, Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M voted to repeal the rule allowing the multiyear agreements.

Nine of the 12 teams in the Big Ten, the conference that championed the cause of multiyear scholarships in the first place, already offered the new arrangements this year, but the rest of the country isn’t so sure.

Georgia and Auburn are the only Division I schools in their states to vote in favor of the new rule. Georgia Tech is among six ACC schools to oppose the measure. Five abstained, and North Carolina did not vote. The majority of the Big 12 also voted to repeal the rule allowing multiyear scholarships.

Alabama coach Nick Saban and Tennessee coach Derek Dooley have made arguments against multiyear scholarships.

On national signing day, Saban said he remembers when teams started offering one-year renewable scholarships to avoid lawsuits from student-athletes who had their scholarships revoked for violating a rule.

Saban also said he thinks the NCAA’s new rule sprang out of “a cynical approach” that coaches don’t have the best interests of their players in mind.

Dooley also has been vocal about his opposition.

“I think it’s humorous that the academic institution can give an academic scholarship and take it away when a student doesn’t perform at a certain GPA-level, but it’s absolutely the worst thing you can do as a coach -- it’s so wrong what you do to these young people -- when he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do,” Dooley told the Knoxville News-Sentinel this month.

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