The University of Maryland said Thursday that it should not be bound by a new NCAA rule subjecting offensive coordinator James Franklin - coach Ralph Friedgen's designated successor - to the same recruiting restrictions as a head coach.
The rule is designed to ensure that assistant coaches who have been named "head-coach-in-waiting" don't enjoy recruiting advantages over those who have not, according to an NCAA legislative manual.
Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said Maryland and Texas - which has named defensive coordinator Will Muschamp to succeed Mack Brown - are joining to combat the rule.
Maryland's "head coach option" with Franklin was signed Feb. 6, 2009. The NCAA rule was initially endorsed by the Division I Legislative Council in October 2009 before being approved last month.
Maryland says it should not be held to restrictions that had yet to be adopted when it signed its deal with Franklin, who is contractually due to receive $1 million from the school if not named to succeed Friedgen by Jan. 2, 2012.
"We are partnering with Texas to approach the NCAA about being grandfathered into the rule, since our contract was signed a year ago," Yow said in an e-mail. "I believe our position has merit. Other than that, I do not think it professional to comment while the schools communicate with the NCAA."
The NCAA said in an e-mail that schools can seek a waiver or request an override to the rule. It would take 30 member schools to trigger an override review by an NCAA legislative body.
The restrictions mean that Franklin and Muschamp can't go on the recruiting trail during the important spring evaluation period of April 15-May 31. Franklin, who declined comment, is widely considered Maryland's best recruiter. About half of Maryland's incoming, 21-member class was directly recruited by Franklin
The rule was controversial within the NCAA. The NCAA's Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet - composed of athletic directors and other college sports officials - opposed the rule, saying, "The designation of an assistant coach as the next head coach may occur several years prior to the departure of the current head coach."
Thus, the group said, the restrictions "may prohibit assistant coaches from participating in off-campus recruiting activities during the spring evaluation period for an extended period of time and may result in other unintended consequences."
It has become increasingly popular for schools to name replacements in advance. Florida State, Texas and Kentucky are among the schools that have used the approach with their football coaches to lure and retain coaching talent and to ensure recruiting continuity.
"Both FSU and Kentucky recently made their transitions with the retirement of their head coaches. Otherwise, they would have been in play [with the new rule] as well," Yow said.
Texas announced in November 2008 that Muschamp was in line to eventually replace Brown.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said the Longhorns' football program could unfairly suffer because of the rule.
"Obviously, since this legislation impacts only two programs in the country, we feel we are being singled out," said Dodds, who first spoke to Orangebloods.com about the rule and later released a prepared statement.
"We are exploring our options for legislative relief within the NCAA process, since we believe this places our program at a direct disadvantage. 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," Dodds said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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