Ohio State granted NCAA waiver to use two staffs
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio State asked for and received NCAA approval to exceed the limit of football coaches on staff through the Buckeyes' bowl game.
The existing staff, under Luke Fickell, will prepare the Buckeyes on the field in the days leading up to and including their Gator Bowl game against Florida on Jan. 2. Then there is incoming coach Urban Meyer, who will handle only recruiting while hiring his own assistants.
Athletic director Gene Smith said the split staffs were "normal in some transitions." He added, "We are operating within allowable NCAA and Big Ten rules."
Ohio State requested the waiver permitting the arrangement and it was verbally approved by the NCAA on Nov. 28, the day the university officially introduced Meyer as its new head coach. Fickell has served as an interim head coach since Jim Tressel was pressured to resign on May 30 in the wake of a scandal involving Buckeyes accepting cash and tattoos for signed memorabilia.
The waiver specifies that no more than 10 coaches - and no more than seven at any one time - may be involved in recruiting. Ohio State asked for the waiver because otherwise it would have exceeded the maximum number of allowed coaches under NCAA rules.
There have been some rumblings at other schools that the waiver gives Ohio State a competitive advantage because their coaching staffs must deal with bowl preparations and recruiting at the same time - with no additional people.
Smith said he didn't understand why other schools would be complaining.
"We have only one coach who is not coaching - and that's coach Meyer," he said. "We don't have a whole new staff out their recruiting. Keep in mind, the guys we have recruiting are also coaching."
The NCAA and Big Ten did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Chris Rogers, assistant athletic director for compliance at Ohio State, said in an email that the school has taken steps to ensure that it does not exceed the number of coaches working on either the bowl game or recruiting.
"As is common in situations where coaching staff changes occur prior to postseason competition, the institution filed a waiver with the NCAA to allow incoming coaching staff members to engage in recruiting activities only, while outgoing coaching staff members engage in on-field coaching activities," he said. "Incoming coaching staff members have been added to the institution's list of permissible recruiting coaches as they have been hired. At no point in time has the institution been over the permissible limit of on-field coaches or recruiting coaches."
Ohio State is still awaiting final word from the NCAA on its sanctions for several problems over the past year. Tressel was forced out after it was revealed that he knew players had likely broken NCAA rules by accepting improper benefits from the subject of a federal drug-trafficking probe. Several players were also suspended for taking the money and tattoos.
In subsequent revelations, players were suspended for accepting envelopes filled with $200 for attending a charity event in suburban Cleveland, and other players were overpaid for summer jobs.
The NCAA has charged Ohio State with "failure to monitor" its athletic program as a result of the ongoing problems.
Yet the NCAA officially approved Ohio State's request for the waiver in a tersely worded decision on Dec. 7.
Under the heading "Decision" is the word "Approved." Under "Conditions" the NCAA offered the limitations on the number of coaches who can be involved in recruiting.
The NCAA cited "extenuating circumstances surrounding the changes in coaching personnel and the timing of the bowl game" as the rationale for its decision to permit Ohio State to exceed the number of allowable coaches on staff.
Smith also confirmed on Friday that Iowa State assistant Tom Herman would be joining Meyer's staff as quarterbacks coach and would be a candidate to also serve as offensive coordinator.
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