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Thursday, December 15, 2011
Examining Ohio State's NCAA coach waiver

By Adam Rittenberg

There has been a great deal of reaction since Ohio State sought and received a waiver from the NCAA that allows the team to exceed the maximum number of coaches allowed on staff to recruit. The waiver essentially allows new head coach Urban Meyer to recruit for Ohio State while the existing coaches, including interim head coach Luke Fickell, prepare the team for its upcoming bowl game.

Other Big Ten coaches and administrators have weighed in, questioning the fairness of the waiver. Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told the Associated Press in an email that he's "struggling to understand how this relates to the 'level playing field' the NCAA claims it is always working to create." Many fans wonder how an Ohio State program that has a pending infractions case with the NCAA could receive what they believe to be special treatment.

I wanted to examine the waiver a little closer and reached out to folks familiar with the process, both at the NCAA and elsewhere.

Here's what I found:
The bigger complaint is whether a school dealing with an infractions case should be able to receive this waiver.
It's definitely fair to question why the NCAA grants these waivers to any school on probation or dealing with infractions cases, regardless of whether the violations relate to countable coaches or recruiting. But the waiver in itself, which isn't a new thing, is designed to help programs through a transition. Otherwise, a team could pay the price in recruiting for making a bowl. The waiver isn't necessary for teams dealing with coaching transitions that haven't made bowls because there are no coaches on the field during this time.

While I doubt this post will temper the outcry about Ohio State's waiver, I hope it provides a better understanding of what happened and the history behind it.