Maryland, Texas to request exemption from new NCAA rule on coaches-in-waiting

In 2009, James Franklin, center, was named the eventual replacement for Coach Ralph Friedgen.
In 2009, James Franklin, center, was named the eventual replacement for Coach Ralph Friedgen. (Preston Keres/the Washington Post)
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By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 12, 2010

The Maryland and Texas athletic departments plan to jointly request an exemption to a recently passed NCAA rule, which subjects "publicly designated" coaches-in-waiting to the same recruiting restrictions as current head coaches.

Under a rule passed by the NCAA's Board of Directors and Legislative Council in January, Terrapins offensive coordinator James Franklin, whom Maryland designated as Coach Ralph Friedgen's successor in February 2009, would be limited to one off-campus visit with a prospect, and that visit could not take place during the vital recruiting period from April 15 to May 31. Were he not a coach-in-waiting, Franklin, Maryland's top recruiter, would be permitted two off-campus evaluations -- one for athletics and one for academics -- per recruit during that same period, like all other assistants.

Maryland Athletic Director Debbie Yow said in an e-mail Thursday that Maryland and Texas -- the only two schools currently affected by the new rule -- will seek to be "grandfathered" in, seeing as each program entered into a coach-in-waiting agreement before the legislation was proposed.

"I believe our position has merit," Yow said. "Other than that, I do not think it professional to comment while the schools communicate with the NCAA."

Texas named defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as its coach-in-waiting in November 2008.

"Obviously, since this legislation impacts only two programs in the country, we feel we are being singled out," Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds said in a statement Wednesday. "Will is our head coach-in-waiting but he is also our defensive coordinator, and this legislation restricts his ability to perform his current job duties."

Should Maryland's and Texas's request be granted by the NCAA, the rule would not apply in its current form to Franklin or Muschamp.

Erik Christianson, the NCAA's director of media relations, said in an e-mail Thursday that both institutions have been in contact with the NCAA in recent weeks to "discuss the options for relief from the new rule." According to Christianson, Maryland and Texas have three choices:

-- Request that the NCAA's Legislative Review and Interpretations Committee assess the application of the legislation's effective date.

-- Seek a waiver of the rule from the Subcommittee for Legislative Relief, which is part of the Division I Legislative Council.

-- Submit a request to override the legislation. Requests from 30 member institutions prompts an override review from the Legislative Council, while 100 requests suspends legislation until it is reviewed.

Yow said the legal counsels at Maryland and Texas will decide which path to pursue and left open the possibility that if one option proved unsuccessful, they could try another.

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