The NCAA said Friday “the totality of circumstances” caused it to approve Georgia Tech's waiver for bowl eligibility.
CBSSports.com reported Thursday that Tech was approved to go bowling even if it loses Saturday's ACC Championship Game to Florida State and finishes 6-7. Tech was put in that position after Miami took a second consecutive bowl ban last month.
MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher found out about the waiver this week and wrote a letter of protest to the NCAA. The waiver seemed to be in direct conflict with a rule adopted in August to make such occurrences less likely. Steinbrecher told CBSSports.com he is upset the ruling could directly impact his conference's ability to land bowl games.
The MAC has seven bowl-eligible teams. The Sun Belt has five and the WAC, in its final year, has four. The concern is that a BCS school is being favored over a non-BCS school that could lose a bowl spot to sub-.500 Georgia Tech.
The MAC had not seen the NCAA statement early Saturday, 22 hours after it was sent to CBSSports.com. The rule stated the NCAA board of directors "was concerned that conferences and bowls could become overcommitted and not account for potential of bowl ineligibility due to factors beyond won-lost records, such as infractions penalties."
The NCAA said the decision was made by “the Legislative Relief staff.” This NCAA link describes the Division I Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief.
The link states: “In cases when no other waiver process already has authority, institutions, conferences and committees may seek relief from applying a rule when extraordinary or extenuating circumstances warrant.”
Georgia Tech was granted the waiver despite there being enough bowl eligible teams (70). Connecticut and Pittsburgh could become bowl eligible on Saturday, further impacting teams in the Sun Belt and WAC.
The statement sent to CBSSports.com on Friday: “After reviewing the request from Georgia Tech, the NCAA staff granted the waiver based on the totality of circumstances. The waiver allows Georgia Tech to be considered for selection along with the other bowl-eligible teams. In consideration of the waiver request, staff noted that Georgia Tech finished the regular season with a 6-6 record, which would make the team bowl-eligible before being obligated to play in the conference championship game. This decision is consistent with the waiver provided to UCLA last year under similar conditions.”