Kicking off the SEC spring meetings

DESTIN, Fla. -- The 2011 SEC spring meetings get under way on Tuesday at the Sandestin Hilton.

The football coaches, men’s and women’s basketball coaches and athletic directors will meet over the next two days, with the presidents and chancellors arriving later in the week.

The hot football topic will be roster management, known more commonly as oversigning.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive has said he expects some legislation to come out of these meetings that will address how many players a school can sign each year and potentially close some of the loopholes that currently exist.

For instance, those players enrolling early in January or waiting to sign in June don’t count against the cap of 28 adopted by the SEC during the 2009 spring meetings.

The majority of coaches in the SEC, including Alabama’s Nick Saban, Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt, South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, LSU’s Les Miles and Tennessee’s Derek Dooley, don’t want to see any dramatic changes in the way schools are allowed to manage scholarship numbers.

They want to continue to be allowed to oversign players and grayshirt players, thus waiting until August before they designate who their 85 on scholarship are going to be. They say the key in doing that is being up front with recruits and their families during the recruiting process and not waiting until the last minute to tell somebody that he has to delay enrollment.

Officials at Florida and Georgia are on record as being staunch opponents of oversigning, so it will be interesting to see how restrictive the legislation is that comes out of these meetings and which proposals are adopted and which ones are shot down.

The presidents have the final say, but don’t underestimate the influence Slive has in these proceedings.

In particular, Slive would like to see the league have more oversight on those players who are placed on medical scholarship, which in turn opens up additional scholarship room for teams. He’s also not too keen on the current rule that allows a school to grayshirt a player after he has been on scholarship for the summer and gone through the strength and conditioning program.

Critics of that practice say it essentially constitutes a tryout and that the players who don’t perform as well in the summer conditioning program are asked to delay enrollment until January.

Some of the other topics expected to be discussed this week include:

  • The NCAA investigations and off-the-field trouble that has dogged the league for much of the past year. South Carolina and Tennessee both received official letters of inquiry from the NCAA, with Tennessee scheduled to appear before the Committee on Infractions in June. The NCAA has conducted several different investigations connected to Auburn, including Cam Newton’s father, Cecil, attempting to shop his son to Mississippi State coming out of junior college. LSU fired assistant coach D.J. McCarthy and docked itself two scholarships stemming from the recruitment of former junior college player Akiem Hicks. Former Georgia receiver A.J. Green and former Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus were both suspended for multiple games last season because of improper dealings with agents.

  • Outside parties in recruiting such as recruiting and scouting services that provide tape and information on prospects. The SEC may also look at preventing 7-on-7 camps and combines on their campuses.

  • Mississippi State’s tradition of ringing cowbells during home games at Scott Field. The SEC will revisit its decision a year ago to allow cowbells into Mississippi State home games on a trial basis. Normally, the league bans artificial noise-makers, but Mississippi State officials have argued that cowbells are a major part of their tradition.

  • Stipends that would help athletes with additional expenses over and above tuition, lodging and meals. This is an idea that’s starting to gain steam throughout college athletics.