ACC officials concerned about inflated staff sizes

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Take a look at Michigan's team photo if you want an example of why ACC officials and football coaches are concerned.

In Michigan's team photo, there are 53 staff members wearing white polo shirts -- and 43 of them are not coaches.

In a sport where head coaches are only allowed nine assistants, ACC officials want to know exactly what all of those other people have been hired to do, and it's not just at Michigan. Alabama hired former Virginia offensive coordinator Mike Groh as a graduate assistant, and inflated staffs are popping up all over the country. And they've got every right to because there isn't any current NCAA legislation that limits the number of non-coaching personnel allowed on staff.

The ACC would like to see that change, if not at least monitored a little closer.

"They're really concerned about that," said associate commissioner/football Michael Kelly.

It's an issue the NCAA's recruiting cabinet has already decided it will look into, and Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich is the ACC's conference representative on that panel. The ACC would like to weigh in on how many coaches can actually be on the field, but officials didn't have enough information at this week's spring meetings to form a concrete proposal with their position. Radakovich will meet with the NCAA recruiting cabinet in June in San Diego.

"I'm sure this will be one of the major items that will be discussed at that meeting," he said. "It's a big issue, but it's really more sport specific. One of the things the NCAA is trying to do right now is pull it together under one umbrella -- the number of accountable coaches, the number of other personnel inside each sport. Hopefully what will come out of the meeting in June is that maybe we need to take a step back and look at sports on an individual basis rather than trying to deal with this issue on an all-encompassing basis."

Kelly said the ACC coaches have to go back and examine their own staff sizes to see how many they have, and what they think would be an appropriate limit for them in terms of being on the field.

"If people have the resources to do whatever they want with X-number of video guys and trainers and strength coaches that's fine," Kelly said. "More power to them. The biggest thing the NCAA is going to focus on and what we want to weigh in on is how many guys can be on the field. I don't think it's run rampant, but there obviously a few programs who have those types of resources to have huge staffs."

Radakovich cautioned it's a problem broader than just college football.

"There are issues in baseball, there are issues in basketball," he said. "I wouldn't look at this as a football-centric issue. These are more national issues."

It was a hot topic at this week's otherwise quiet ACC spring meetings.

"In some places it's really doubling the staff just about," said Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman. "We're labeling them one thing, but their activities certainly suggest they're doing other things. They're non-coaches who are coaching. We've got to find a way to address that issue, otherwise the playing field is not level at all. People are always looking for ways to maneuver and gain advantages and this is one of those loopholes that has been found that hopefully we'll be able to address."

NC State athletic director Lee Fowler said helping create legislation was something the ACC officials and coaches talked extensively about and "felt was very important."

"I think it's a concern because we're hearing that's the case at other schools, and they're using weight coaches to be skill trainers and that sort of stuff, which is against what the rules were made for," Fowler said. "We just want to make sure there's some legislation or whatever it takes to make sure everybody is under the same rules and regulations."