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Case of UR QB Rocco now on appeal

Michael Rocco must hold his stance in football limbo for a while longer.

The waiver the University of Richmond submitted to the NCAA in mid-February on behalf of the quarterback who transferred to UR from Virginia in January was denied, Spiders coach Danny Rocco said on Tuesday.

Richmond will appeal, and Danny Rocco remains hopeful that Michael Rocco, his nephew, could be eligible this season for the Spiders, who return 17 starters from an 8-3 team that shared the 2012 CAA Football championship.

Because he has only one season of eligibility remaining, Michael Rocco must sit out a season before playing for an FCS team, per NCAA rules. The waiver request was based largely on Michael Rocco being on track to graduate in the spring of 2014. Prolonging his educational experience for the purpose of playing football in 2014 isn’t the preference of either Rocco.

“We were disappointed. Michael was disappointed … I really wouldn’t say we’re shocked that (the waiver) came back unapproved,” Danny Rocco said. According to the coach, the waiver was reviewed by an NCAA committee that considered the case strictly as rules apply to it.

“The appeal is not necessarily heard by the NCAA. It’s heard by college administrators and people who are actually on college campuses,” said Danny Rocco. That group is more likely to explore circumstances, added the coach. Richmond may know more in about two weeks. The Spiders began spring football on March 21, and their offseason practice schedule concludes with the spring game on April 20.

Michael Strauss, a junior who transferred to UR from Virginia in January of 2011, started Richmond’s final four games last season and gets the majority of snaps with the first string in spring ball. Michael Rocco is among QBs who share snaps with the second team.

Michael Rocco last season at Virginia was one of two quarterbacks who rotated with the first team. Because of his experience as an ACC starter, and because Michael Rocco is learning Richmond’s offense during spring ball, Danny Rocco suggested that Michael Rocco could be ready to play in UR’s opener Aug. 31 vs. VMI, if he were declared eligible by the NCAA.

“I will continue to do what we believe is in the best interest of our football team to give us the best opportunity to be successful,” Danny Rocco said. “And as the circumstances change, I will continue to re-evaluate what that means, and how that plays out.”