Machen for SI: grayshirting is “reprehensible”

By Adam Silverstein
February 1, 2011

University of Florida president Bernie Machen, published in a feature piece for, calls offering grayshirts to student-athletes “reprehensible” and says taking away a scholarship from a player is “disgusting” and a “nefarious practice.”

Imagine the feeling if the student finds out, literally a few months before enrolling, that the institution is backing out of the contract. It is too late in the summer to go back to one’s second choice. The student is told he will have to wait until next year. Sorry, but no acceptance, no scholarship. That’s it.

In Division I college football this practice is known as “grayshirting” and, unfortunately, there are universities that sanction this activity. The universities, with full knowledge of what they are doing, extend more athletic scholarships than they have. These schools play roulette with the lives of talented young people. If they run out of scholarships, too bad. The letter-of-intent signed by the university the previous February is voided. Technically, it’s legal to do this. Morally, it is reprehensible.

What makes Machen’s comments particularly interesting are two stories that have come out over the last two recruiting cycles involving Florida Gators either offering or at the very least discussing grayshirts with high school players.

Rivals reported in Jan. 2010 that the Gators proposed the use of a grayshirt to three-star tight end recruit Michael McFarland, noting that he would not likely be strong enough to compete in the Southeastern Conference at his current build.

“When I went up there they threw out on the table the whole grayshirt thing,” McFarland said. “There have been times I wanted to do it and there were times I didn’t want to do it because I wanted to get up there and go play. […] They didn’t say they were going to do it but they gave me the option.”

Florida decided the move was not necessary; McFarland joined UF in the fall.

This year, four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett and Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels have noted that former Gators head coach Urban Meyer offered Brissett the opportunity to grayshirt, a move the player scoffed at.

It is important to note that there is a serious distinction between a team offering a grayshirt before a player has signed a National Letter of Intent and a team delaying or pulling a scholarship after that process is concluded. Machen is discussing the latter.

Entering into an agreement with a student-athlete that he or she will wait a year if they wish to play at a particular university where the player knows of the intentions and agrees to the move ahead of time is quite different than locking that player up and forcing him or her to abide by your decision after the fact.


  1. Floriduh says:

    I get the outrage at oversigning, but whats wrong with greyshirting a kid to a) increase his chances of eventually getting a scholarship and b) keeping him focused and IN SCHOOL in the meantime? Just so the school is honest from the beginning and acts in good faith I see no problem with that, and obviously Urban didn’t either.

    Machen’s rant is grandstanding of the highest order. Embarrassing.

    • Scooterp says:

      There is a difference between being up front and honest about it, which Urban was in both instances, and being selfishly used as a safety net to cover your ass………. and Machen is a very highly respected administrator in the academia world whose oponion people respect, unlike blogging nerds on the internet.

  2. gatorgrad79 says:

    We are the laughing stock of many boards today – machen talks about greyshirts which we have apparently offered (I know we did not CHANGE our offers after LOI signed, but the general public does not make that distinction), losing recruits to Clemson and other acc teams, and now Urb goes right back to work for espn after declaring undying devotion to family. All the haters are having a field day….

  3. npgator says:

    Who cares what the other boards say. Put it this way – if we hadn’t been so successful over the past serveral years noboby would care what we did or what we said.

    • DGLgatorfan says:

      I agree 100 percent no one is making fun of vandy. Most of the recruits uf “lost” to clemson other schools did as well I’m sure other schools wanted bellamy and watkins etc etc.

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