- Associated Press - Friday, December 9, 2011

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 coach. Fickell has served as an interim 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.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke was asked about the coaches waiver on Friday.

“It’s different. That would be my reaction. I’ve never heard of it,” he said. “Is that an advantage? Yeah, I think so.”

Later Friday, Illinois introduced new coach Tim Beckman, a former assistant at Ohio State. He revealed that Illinois has also requested a coaches waiver to help during the transition.

“I knew that was going on,” Beckman said. “I think it’s just something that we’re gonna try to do right now so that we have that same advantage that they do.”

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the practice was not all that rare.

“The NCAA has certainly received similar waiver requests prior to the bowl season from universities that have recently experienced coaching staff changes,” she said in an email to The Associated Press. “When granted, these waivers are temporary, typically lasting through the bowl game, and only provide relief from maximum number of coaches allowed to be employed by the school. To prevent competitive advantage, the university still cannot exceed the number of coaches allowed to recruit at any one time and the amount of coaches allowed on the sidelines remains the same.”

Smith, who said he had asked for and received the waiver when he was the AD at Arizona State, 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 there recruiting. Keep in mind, the (other) guys we have recruiting are also coaching.”

The NCAA and Big Ten did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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