As I pointed out Thursday in linking to Chip Towers’ piece on Lorenzo Mauldin -- the kid from Atlanta who had been committed to South Carolina since last summer, but didn’t sign with the Gamecocks because of their numbers crunch with scholarships -- there are several different sides to the hot-button issue of oversigning.
Mauldin, who’s lived in foster homes and has had an extremely tough childhood, said in the piece that he felt “shoved away.” To his credit, he also points out that he’s yet to qualify academically. It should be noted that some of the players who did sign with the Gamecocks are also in that same boat.
Mauldin said he received a faxed letter from South Carolina the day before signing day informing him that the Gamecocks would not have room for him in this class. Obviously, they were holding a spot open for Jadeveon Clowney. But, then, who wouldn’t?
Clowney, the No. 1 prospect in the country, ended up signing with the Gamecocks on Feb. 14, nearly two weeks after signing day.
Looking at this whole situation purely from Mauldin’s perspective, I think most everybody would agree that it stinks.
But to be fair, there is another side -- South Carolina’s side.
Yes, the Gamecocks offered Mauldin a scholarship last July. And, yes, Mauldin accepted. But he was also told that there was a chance he might have to wait until January 2012 before enrolling on scholarship, which is more commonly referred to as grayshirting.
South Carolina coaches told him that possibility would only strengthen if he had not met NCAA entrance requirements prior to signing day.
Two weeks prior to signing day, South Carolina coaches reminded Mauldin that there might not be a scholarship available in this signing class.
So, at least, it sounds like South Carolina was upfront with Mauldin that he might have to attend prep school and/or wait until January to go on scholarship.
One of the hardest parts for SEC schools in offering scholarships is projecting who’s going to qualify and who’s not, which is why you see most of the schools in this league offering more scholarships than they have available.
In the case of Mauldin, my sense is that South Carolina will stand behind the kid and do the right thing, assuming that he does indeed qualify. I think that’s been the Gamecocks’ intention all along. He says his preference is to still play for South Carolina, although he does have other options.
It’s just another reminder that the whole issue of oversigning is not quite as black and white as some people make it out to be.
The key is communication and being upfront with prospects and their families throughout the process and not springing a surprise on them at the last minute.
If a kid really wants to go to South Carolina or Alabama or LSU and is willing to wait it out and grayshirt, and that’s presented as a possibility all along, then maybe it’s not such an ugly practice after all.
Either way, it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of legislation the SEC comes up with on this issue in June at the spring meetings.