The ACC turned over the complaint to the Southeastern Conference; the SEC will review the matter. An individual familiar with the complaint said Maryland has concerns that Vanderbilt was in contact with Maryland players throughout this past season, perhaps with the intent of recruiting them. Franklin has said he has strong relationships with former players but denied any tampering allegations.
Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor David Williams issued a statement that said the school has been informed by the SEC that the ACC has filed a “formal complaint on behalf of one of its members. We are complying with SEC and Vanderbilt procedures and are conducting an investigation on the matter.”
SEC spokesman Charles Bloom declined comment and referred to the Vanderbilt statement.
Despite the clearance to transfer to Vanderbilt, O’Brien, the 2010 ACC rookie of the year and third-year sophomore who last week announced he would transfer, is unlikely to take one of his visits to Vanderbilt for two reasons: O’Brien does not want to subject Franklin, whom he maintains great respect for, to any further scrutiny.
And O’Brien also has a plethora of other options to join what people close to him describe as high-profile, nationally ranked football programs, including one that won the national championship in the past decade.
Maryland will continue to pay for the education of all three players throughout the spring. Because O’Brien will graduate this spring, the quarterback can play immediately at another Football Bowl Subdivision school so long as he enrolls in a graduate program not offered at Maryland. At least a dozen well-recognized programs have expressed strong interest, including multiple schools that played in BCS games the past two seasons and perennial contenders from the Big 12, SEC and Big Ten.
Those with knowledge of the suitors said several schools would prefer that their interest not become public yet.
Despite struggling this past season to match his performance of 2010, O’Brien is coveted particularly because he has two years of eligibility remaining. He plans to sit down with his family in Kernersville, N.C., this weekend to trim his list of schools to five to seven. After that, he is planning to take at least three visits to campuses.