Maryland should know by tonight how long -- or if at all -- it will have Scott Milanovich this fall.
Milanovich, the most prolific passer in Terps football history, will have his appeal of an eight-game gambling suspension heard by the NCAA eligibility committee this afternoon. He then must decide if the final penalty is lenient enough to keep him at Maryland or severe enough to send him to the NFL.
If the suspension is not significantly reduced, Milanovich probably would apply for the NFL supplemental draft, which is tentatively scheduled for Friday. Gary Milanovich, father of the quarterback, said that his son tentatively has scheduled a workout for NFL teams tomorrow afternoon.
According to the NCAA director of eligibility, that impending deadline led to scheduling today's teleconference quicker than is the norm.
The teleconference, scheduled for 4 p.m., will include representatives from Maryland and the NCAA's eligibility office, the five members of the eligibility committee and the Terps athletes making appeals. In addition to Milanovich, basketball reserve Matt Raydo is appealing the NCAA's decision to extend his school-imposed seven-game gambling suspension to 20 games.
The NCAA suspensions were handed down July 10, and Maryland formally appealed Thursday.
"When my secretary started calling, there wasn't an open date for everyone until the second week of August," said Carrie Doyle, NCAA director of eligibility. "The committee members have canceled some appointments and changed some plans for this appeal, because they know it's something that needs to be done before the [supplemental] draft."
As he has since his name first was linked to a gambling investigation in April, Milanovich declined to comment.
A senior quarterback from Butler, Pa., who holds school records for completions (525), touchdown passes (47) and completion percentage (.661), Milanovich was suspended for two games by Maryland at the conclusion of a three-month investigation conducted through the office of President William E. Kirwan.
Maryland cited precedents and the sum of Milanovich's bets, $200, in arriving at that penalty, but the NCAA eligibility appeals staff disagreed. Melisa Dehon, the staffer who reviewed the case, cited that he was directly involved with a bookmaker, that he placed six bets over a three-year period and that he annually signed statements acknowledging it was against NCAA rules to bet on intercollegiate athletics.
Two of the five members of the eligibility committee represent institutions that play Maryland in football this fall, but Doyle said that neither Sandy Barbour, a senior associate athletic director at Tulane, nor Chuck Ehrhardt, a professor of law at Florida State, intended to recuse themselves from the case because of a conflict of interest.
Doyle said the Milanovich and Raydo appeals will be heard separately.
Committee chairman Milt Schroeder, an Arizona State law professor, will conduct the teleconference. It will include a statement of facts by the NCAA's Dehon, Maryland's rationale ++ for appeal, an opportunity for the student-athlete to make a presentation and time for questions of any party.
After closing comments, the committee members will remain on the line, discuss the case and arrive at a majority opinion. They can accept the NCAA's recommendation or reduce the suspensions.
Last year, the eligibility committee reduced suspensions in four of the seven appeals involving Division I athletes.
Should Milanovich revoke his remaining eligibility by applying for the supplemental draft, coach Mark Duffner, who has a three-year record of 9-24, will rely on a pair of redshirt sophomores who never have attempted a pass in college.
Brian Cummings, who ran the short-yardage offense last year, is scheduled to start against Tulane on Sept. 2. Orlando Strozier, the probable backup, was a starting cornerback in 1993, but took off last season to rehabilitate a knee injury.
Three other Maryland players, one a former walk-on who left the team last year, bet between $10 and $25 on parlay cards and received one-game suspensions by Maryland, penalties the NCAA upheld. The other two, Jermaine Lewis, one of the top receivers in Maryland history, and reserve lineman Farad Hall, will not play against Tulane.