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'Vigorous' debate at SEC meetings

SANDESTIN, Fla. – The presidents and chancellors of the Southeastern Conference have an idea about what they want to do about oversigning and roster management.

They’re just not sure they want to go it alone.

“We'd love the SEC to play a lead role on doing the right thing,” South Carolina president Harris Pastides said Thursday at the SEC Spring Meetings, “but we would hope the NCAA would adopt whatever we do.”

After meetings the past two days with coaches and athletics directors, Thursday afternoon was the presidents’ turn. After a 3½-hour session filled with what Pastides said was “vigorous discussion and lengthy discussion,” a dozen university leaders emerged relatively tight-lipped while pointing toward Friday’s vote.

“We agreed not to say anything until we have something for you,” Tennessee-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek said. “We should have something for you tomorrow.”

“We talked about things today,” UGA president Michael Adams told reporters, “and I assume there will be decisions made tomorrow. … I would suggest you guys go rent a beach chair and go get a beer and wait until tomorrow.”

Friday morning will feature more deliberation before a vote planned in the early afternoon.

Among the proposals being considered are several aimed at roster management for the league’s institutions, such as more oversight of the use of medical scholarships, a requirement that signees count against the 85-man limit upon arrival (rather than August) and – in what has emerged as the week’s most controversial issue – changing the annual limit on football signing class sizes from 28 to 25.

The league’s coaches were unanimously against the 25-signee rule, according to South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who added that “The presidents I don’t think are.”

“Most of the discussion was around if we go first and if we do something that is viewed as restrictive and conservative,” Pastides said, “would that be a challenge to the rest of the country and to the other league or might we just be left out there as the only league. … Our football advocates would prefer that there be a so-called level playing field.

“For us the challenge is, 'Do you go first and hope that they'll follow? What if we do go first, and they don't follow? Are we going to go back then to 28?’ Nobody sees that happening. So we're either going to forge some new ground or not.”

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