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NCAA reportedly considering expanding 25-man signing limit

The transfer portal has led to unintended consequences -- for players and coaches. The Football Oversight Committee is attempting a fix -- that could come with its own unintended consequences.

The NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee is weighing proposals to expand the 25-man signing limit, according to a report Friday from Sports Illustrated.

Expanding the limit has been viewed as a necessary counterweight to the transfer portal. With players able to leave without consequence, the 25-man limit has left a number -- most? almost all? -- teams well short of the 85 allowed scholarships. In addition to being a headache for coaches, it could also present a player safety issue if teams are short at certain positions.

The transfer portal has also led to an unwanted shift in the recruiting marketplace. Many coaches have used the portal as their primary talent source, rather than a stop-gap to fill a roster hole, since portal signees will be more "committed" to their program than high school players having used their 1-time exemption to sign with their new school. 

"You're not going to get a developmental kid in the transfer portal. You're going to get a kid that adds to (your) size and depth to be ready to play immediately," Texas State head coach Jake Spavital said after his program did not sign a single high school recruit in the 2021 class.

While everyone many can agree the 25-man limit is a problem that needs fixing, debate remains about the best way to do it.

One option, per SI, would be a one-for-one system, where a team gains an additional scholarship beyond the original 25 for every player they lose to the portal. Another would be similar -- but requires teams to use their original 25 scholarships on high school players. Another would just increase the total number of scholarships to 30 or more. 

A potential sticking point would be adjudicating which type of departure warrants an additional scholarship. Players leaving for the NFL, players kicked off the team, players told to play elsewhere would not count toward the bonus scholarship system -- but who decides the true reason for a player's departure? 

“Is there a possibility of that happening? Yes,” AFCA executive director Todd Berry told SI, “but players who are run off are usually not happy. They’ll come in and tell compliance ‘They kicked me off the team.’”

The fix, assuming the Oversight Committee can agree upon one, could be in place before the 2022 recruiting cycle is complete. Read the full story here.