“The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a membership-driven organization dedicated to safeguarding the well-being of student-athletes and equipping them with the skills to succeed on the playing field, in the classroom and throughout life.”
That is the mission statement of the NCAA, and with its newest ruling that statement has been thrown out the window once again.
The NCAA Division I council met April 8 to vote on an issue that has been of pressing concern through this school year: satellite football camps. A representative from each of the 10 Division I conferences met to vote on whether the camps should be allowed or banned. The verdict — satellite camps will be no more.
This ruling isn’t shutting down third-party camps such as The Manning Passing Academy, but it is forbidding college coaches from attending. The ruling also forbids universities from hosting camps off campus grounds.
Satellite camps are nothing new on the college recruiting circuit, but came under criticism as the University of Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh set up camps throughout the south in his first year as head coach of the Wolverines.
The criticism came from one direction only though, the SEC. The SEC and the Atlantic Coast Conference have implemented their own satellite bans in years past to make sure they weren’t stepping on each others toes. Now feeling threatened by Harbaugh and the potential of other coaches coming into their region, they felt the need to try and enforce their rule on everyone, and they got their way.
The NCAA has been receiving a ton of backlash in regards to the issue, and it should, but it is also not 100 percent at fault. In this case the NCAA is the universities that make it up. The ACC, Big 12, Mountain West, Pacfic-12, SEC, and Sunbelt voted for the camp ban, while the American Conference, Big 10, Conference USA and Mid-American voted against it.
The criticism of satellite camps is that they allow coaches to grab recruits from regions other than their own, but the benefits of them are triple fold.
First off, we all know the top recruits in the country. We know the five-star and the four-star players. Coaches know about them without having to visit their home states and are offering scholarships whether they came to their camp or not. These kids have the ability to go anywhere in the country they choose, whether that’s close-to-home University of Alabama or across-the-country University of Oregon. This ruling doesn’t affect them.
This ruling affects the football players on that three-star level and lower — the players that maybe never even got ranked and the players that can’t afford to visit multiple university camps every year in hopes of being a match.
In years past, when a school like Ohio State hosted a summer camp, Buckeye coaches weren’t the only ones in attendance. There were coaches from the state’s smaller schools such as Toledo and Bowling Green. Out of the hundreds of players that attend an Ohio State camp, maybe a handful are considered future Buckeyes. The ones that aren’t just might be what the MAC programs are looking for. Satellite camps allow these kids to get noticed and to have a chance at a free college education and the opportunity to continue playing the sport they love.
College camps are expensive. If a player wants the chance to be seen by Nick Saban, he’s headed to the University of Alabama football camp, where an overnight tuition is $400. If a player wants the opportunity to become a University of Southern California Trojan, parents are looking at a tuition fee of $350. For a player from out of state, that’s a huge fee for the chance to be seen by one coaching staff.
Third-party camps broke the mold with coaches from multiple institutions in attendance. These third-party camps aren’t much cheaper, some are even more expensive, but they hold a greater possibility for players with coaches from different conferences and divisions taking note.
The ruling isn’t set in stone just yet. On April 28, the NCAA board of directors can adopt or rescind. The board is mainly made up of university presidents and chancellors, allowing each program to place its own vote.
I hope for the sake of football players everywhere that this ruling gets rescinded. I also hope it gets rescinded for the sake of the NCAA, which has continued to lose credibility over the years, and if not I call for a new mission statement:
“The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a membership-driven organization dedicated to money and keeping the money within the universities and coaches’ pockets. The well-being of the athlete only goes as far as making sure they are able to supply that income.”