Did Alabama pressure some underperforming players to quit the team for medical reasons, even in cases where the players were healthy enough to play?
The Crimson Tide has offered at least 12 medical hardship scholarships since Nick Saban became coach of the team in 2007. The scholarships, allowed under NCAA rules, are intended to ensure that scholarship athletes who are too injured to play don't lose their financial aid. Once a player agrees to take a medical scholarship, they can no longer play for that team.
But at least three Alabama players who took that route say the team is using the practice to clear spots for better players by cutting players it no longer wants.
"I'm still kind of bitter, former linebacker Chuck Kirschman told the Wall Street Journal.
"It's a business," he said. "College football is all about politics. And this is a loophole in the system."
Alabama isn't alone in this practice. The Journal reports that the 12 members of the Southeastern Conference have given at least 25 of these scholarships to players in the past three years.
Teams are allowed 85 scholarship players, but like the practice of oversigning and grayshirting, teams often find a way to violate the spirit of the rules. Medical hardships is just another avenue.
Kirschman, who played in two games in 2008, suffered a back injury but continued to practice with the team through the spring of 2009. Then he was approached by coaches and trainers and asked to take a medical scholarship.
Although the decision was ultimately his, Kirschman said the the move was "pushed. It was instigated for several reasons."
Alabama offered to pay for his graduate degree in business and Kirschman accepted. He still enjoys some of the benefits that are given to players. "I still get game tickets, which is nice," he said.
Thanks to Image of Sport.