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September 12, 2012

Down with the count - USC scholarship situation




NCAA mandated scholarship sanctions are now in effect for USC, causing plenty of confusion among Trojan fans.

We explain in detail the current scholarship situation, how the Trojans will be situated going forward and how Darreus Rogers fits in.

First we should briefly explain how the scholarship sanctions work. USC has not simply lost 30 scholarships over three years. It is losing 30 initial scholarships and 30 total scholarships over three years.

Initial scholarships are the number of players a program can sign for a given recruiting class. Normally schools can sign 25 players per year, but starting with the class of 2012, USC was limited to just 15.

Back in February, USC signed 12 players for the class of 2012 and were well under the 15 limit. The three leftover scholarships were "rolled over" into the following recruiting class.

When a school has not reached its yearly limit of initial scholarships per class, midyear enrollees may count against either the current year's limit or the following year's limit. This rule applies to any midyear transfers or early high school graduates.

Thus, for the class of 2013, USC can again sign 15 players, plus three additional early graduates. Essentially that bumps up the class of 2013 to 18 players instead of 15.

The total scholarships are the number of scholarship players currently on the team. Since there are no partial scholarships in football, one player always equals one scholarship.

All schools are allowed 85 players on scholarship, but with USC's sanctions, that number drops down to 75 until 2014.

USC's total scholarship sanctions started this fall. For the entire 2012, 2013 and 2014 football seasons the Trojans can only carry 75 scholarship players instead of 85.

Recent Confusion

There have been several recent events that have caused confusion regarding the scholarship numbers. Head coach Lane Kiffin has declined to talk about his strategy regarding scholarships, so this is our interpretation of the NCAA rules as applied to the USC case.

The first situation arose with the transfer of tailback Silas Redd from Penn State. Due to NCAA sanctions against Penn State, Redd was able to transfer to USC without having to sit out a year.

When Redd came into the program, he became an initial counter for the class of 2012 and an overall counter towards the 75 limit. Redd essentially took away one of those three rollover or early enrollee scholarships for 2012.

The second situation came in the form of former walk-on players that were granted scholarships for the 2011 season.

All NCAA football scholarships are one-year renewable, not multi-year. The three walk-ons that were awarded scholarships knew there was a chance their scholarships would only be good for one year and not the rest of their USC careers.

During the summer Lane Kiffin decided that senior linebacker Tony Burnett would have his scholarship renewed, but he did not to renew the scholarship of senior center Abe Markowitz or junior linebacker Will Andrew.

Following fall camp, when the scholarship situation became more clear, Kiffin told the team that Markowitz would go back on scholarship and senior punter Kyle Negrete would get a scholarship as well. Andrew went back to walk-on status.

The third situation came with the return of linebacker Simione Vehikite. After spending a few months in jail for a vehicular felony violation, Vehikite got back to work off the field. He took classes in the spring and did everything Lane Kiffin asked of him. True to his word, Kiffin kept a spot for Vehikite and put him back on the team and back on scholarship.

When he returned, Vehikite became an unexpected total scholarship counter, but not an initial scholarship counter.

Darreus Rogers gets cleared

The final and most complicated situation involves 2012 Carson (Calif.) wide receiver signee Darreus Rogers. After failing to qualify following his senior season, Rogers took three classes over the summer and needed to score high marks in order to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Rogers was eventually cleared, but not until two weeks into the school year. He announced Monday on Twitter that he was going to greyshirt and enroll at USC in January.

As a greyshirt, Rogers enrollment will essentially be postponed. He can enroll in January, delay the start of his eligibility clock and participate in 2013 USC spring football.

Since the Trojans are currently right at the 75 scholarship limit (see scholarship distribution chart here) how does Rogers fit in?

It appears that Rogers will be admitted with what is known as a midyear graduate replacement exception. The midyear graduate exception allows an early enrollee to replace an outgoing graduating counter who has exhausted all of his eligibility.

Here is an example of how this would work: Punter Kyle Negrete is graduating and is in his last year of eligibility. Negrete is on his way out after the season and Rogers can come in and take Negrete's spot on the team. Negrete comes off as a total counter and Rogers becomes a midyear total counter. USC was at 75 scholarships during the season and stays at 75 scholarships after the season even with the addition of Rogers to the team.

As stated above, a midyear enrollee has flexibility regarding his initial counter status. For example, a midyear enrollee following the 2012 football season could count towards the class of 2012 or the class of 2013. The only stipulation for that is if the program is under the total scholarship limit. Normally a school is held to an 85 limit, but in USC's case, the limit is 75.

Since USC is already at the 75 scholarship limit, Rogers will have to count forward and be an initial counter for the class of 2013.

How many can USC sign?

Rogers was one of the 12 signed members of the class of 2012. As a greyshirt midyear enrollee, he now will count towards the class of 2013. That means USC really only signed 11 players in February, not 12. But Silas Redd will still take one of those 2012 rides, bringing the total back up to 12.

With Rogers now counting towards the class of 2013, that leaves just 14 spots available in that class. That would suggest USC can bring in 17 "new" recruits in January and February. In total, three from the class of 2012 and 14 from the class of 2013. Any additional spots would have to come from an initial counter loophole we are not aware of.

Ryan Abraham is the publisher of USCFootball.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @InsideTroy.


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