A temporary waiver allowing college football programs to sign more than 25 players in a recruiting class as a means of replacing outgoing transfers could be passed next month. The proposal, which allows programs to sign up to seven additional players in a class to replace up to seven transfers, sets the stage for a permanent rule change that would make life easier for coaches.
The measure won’t come up for discussion until the Oct 5-6 meeting of the NCAA Council, chair Shane Lyons told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Still, it comes amid a massive change within college sports. This spring, the NCAA gave the green light to Division I athletes in sports such as football and basketball to transfer once without sitting out a season.
That freedom of movement has led to a massive uptick in transfers, which made roster management especially tricky for some first-year football coaches and others dealing with large numbers of outgoing transfers. As the rules are currently constructed, any incoming transfers count against the 25-man limit of a program’s signing class.
That has forced some college coaches to choose between signing high school players, whom they can develop for the future, or transfers who can help on the field right away. An expansion of signing class limits for those programs hit hard by transfers will allow coaches to do both, giving more high school prospects in the upcoming signing classes increased scholarship opportunities.
Coaches were facing a massive problem with roster management after players were given an extra year of eligibility in 2020 due to COVID-19. That extra year did not count against the 85-scholarship maximum, meaning coaches could be carrying more than 100 players on scholarship this season.
Stress was already starting to appear in recruiting circles. Because coaches assumed they would be held to the 85-scholarship max in 2022, recruiting classes were becoming drastically smaller. The concern was that there simply wouldn’t be enough scholarships for a large swath of talented players.
Allowing a 32-recruit max allows coaches to “mitigate but not solve,” the problem. This will be a multi-year situation, according to a council member.
“We’re looking at the appropriate guardrails,” the source said. “The problem with it is being able to catch up.”