Coburn feels 25-plus-7 signee exception could help FSU

The NCAA’s Division I Council approved a one-year waiver of the annual football signee limit of 25, allowing a program to replace up to seven departing athletes who leave the team through the transfer portal.

Members of the council feel the solution is “temporary but necessary” and that a “more permanent solution will be considered in the coming months.” 

The move could be beneficial for Florida State, which has seen significant roster attrition in recent years under former coach Willie Taggart as well as coach Mike Norvell. Of the 21 enrollees from Taggart’s first class in 2018, for example, only seven remain.

FSU athletics director David Coburn explained the new rule to the school’s athletics board on Wednesday afternoon and said “obviously we’re one of the schools very interested.”

“That seven would be one-to-one replacement for student-athletes who leave after the end of this semester who transfer or go pro at the end of the semester,” Coburn said. “So that would allow schools to recoup up to seven additional signees. And those could be either high school signees or transfers. So that will be helpful.”

According to a statement from the NCAA on Wednesday, the waiver is applied because of the high number of athletes transferring after they were given the opportunity to transfer once within a four-year window earlier in 2021. The new “25 plus seven” rule applies to any athletes “who depart on or after the earlier of the last day of the school’s fall term or Dec. 15, 2021, which is the first day of the early National Letter of Intent signing period.”

Beyond transfers, some programs have lost scholarship players to the NFL a year early or as injuries have mounted over the course of a season.

“When you combine that with injuries, which happen everywhere obviously, schools are finding themselves in situations at certain position groups, and it varies from school to school, where they are very, very thin,” Coburn said. “And that clearly presents a health and safety issue for the student-athletes.”