University of Florida President Bernie Machen has come out swinging in regards to oversigning and grayshirting on SI.com today. Here are some choice excepts:
Unfortunately, there are universities that sanction [oversigning and grayshirting]... Technically, it's legal to do this. Morally, it is reprehensible.
Associated with "grayshirting" -- and equally disgusting -- is the nefarious practice of prematurely ending student-athletes' scholarships. Some are just not renewed even though the student-athlete is doing what is asked of him.
Some students are mysteriously given a "medical exemption" which ends their athletic careers -- and makes another scholarship available for the football coach to hand out...
What needs to happen in intercollegiate athletics is that universities must accept the moral responsibility to stop and prevent "grayshirting" and its associated actions. The football programs must be accountable and should honor institutional commitments to students. It is, after all, a moral contract.
This article of his expands on his similar comments in today's USA Today, which blunts the impact of it a little bit. He's treading old ground too when it comes to the arguments against oversigning. What he put in this piece is nothing that other people haven't said before.
What makes it different and newsworthy is that he's a university president accusing other conference presidents of knowing the arguments against oversigning and ignoring them in the USAT comments. In SI, he's calling the actions of other SEC members morally "reprehensible," "disgusting," and "nefarious." In practical terms, he's basically calling out the SEC West; the only programs in the conference to stay under 25 signees per year over the last five years (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt) are all in the East.
It will be interesting to see if this leads to any change. Similarly, I'll be interested to see if other conference presidents have any public reactions to this.
One also assumes he's referring to only offering a grayshirt after signing day has passed. UF offered one to QB Jacoby Brisset last October, and it also discussed one (but didn't end up going that route) for TE Michael McFarland last January shortly before NSD 2010.