Later this month, the NCAA is set to vote on an issue that has the potential to hurt football recruits coming from the non-contingent United States.
Currently Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision coaches are allowed to work and attend non-institutional football camps unless their conference says otherwise, meaning college football coaches are allowed to attend camps put on by a third party.
Two conferences — the SEC and the ACC Coastal Division — don’t allow their coaches to host camps or participate in camps 50 miles from their respective campus. These two conferences are now looking to ban coaches nationwide from doing so as well.
This ruling would require athletes to travel to the continental United States to attend football camps and ultimately be recruited. If the NCAA votes to instate this rule, it would be a discriminatory ruling due to economics.
Many players coming from the islands do not have the financial means to attend multiple camps, let alone one camp during their high school careers. On average a family from the islands will spend upwards of $1,500 for airfare, hotel, ground transportation, initial camp costs and food for one child alone. If a parent needs to travel too, that’s an additional $800. A second camp would add at least another $500 to the tab.
Currently in the state of Hawaii and American Samoa, multiple football camps are conducted by third parties. Recently retired Pittsburgh Steeler strong safety Troy Polamalu, previous University of Hawaii football coach June Jones and former NFL player Rich Miano all host camps in the islands. The Pacific Island Athletic Alliance as well as All Poly Sports host camps in the islands, giving exposure to local athletes.
In Hawaii alone, athletes can attend camp in front of 80 plus college coaches without the economic difficulty of traveling to the continent. If the NCAA vote is in favor of the SEC and ACC, this will no longer be a possibility.
If the rule is passed, this will be the second time in five years that the NCAA has put up more walls for athletes from the non-contingent states. In 2011, the NCAA banned coaches from attending combines — the Nike Combine and the PIAA combine in Hawaii each boast attendances with hundreds of athletes.
If this vote goes through, football players from the islands will be hurt, but so will college and professional football. College football may have lost its 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota, if this rule were to have been passed while Mariota was still in high school. Oregon first took notice of the 6’4″ Hawaii local at an in island combine.
Hawaii has produced on average 20 recruits per year between 2008 and 2013. In the 2015 NFL Draft, five of the first 66 picks were of Polynesian descent. More than 70 players in the NFL are of Polynesian descent. Currently, 30 NFL players are from American Samoa and more than 200 play Division I NCAA football. Eighty Hawaiian football players signed letters of intent last February.
The PIAA has started a petition to stop the vote from taking place. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the Exempt the 808 petition had 1,638 signatures.
If this ruling were to pass, the NCAA will penalize athletes for simply not living in the continental US of A. But even more so, the NCAA will be hurting itself.