NCAA Outlaws All Satellite Camps

Ann Arbor, MI. The NCAA’s Division I Council has approved a proposal that will ban all satellite camps, effective immediately. The ruling is part of the “first change in academic integrity approach in 33 years”, according to the NCAA’s statement.   The NCAA’s official release on the camps can be found directly below.

The Council approved a proposal applicable to the Football Bowl Subdivision that would require those schools to conduct camps and clinics at their school’s facilities or at facilities regularly used for practice or competition. Additionally, FBS coaches and noncoaching staff members with responsibilities specific to football may be employed only at their school’s camps or clinics. This rule change is effective immediately.

The announcement will have a direct impact on Michigan’s program, as Jim Harbaugh and his staff will no longer be able to go on their scheduled satellite camp tour through Alabama and Florida this spring.  Last spring Harbaugh took his staff on an extensive “Summer Swarm” tour that included stops in Texas, California, Florida, Alabama, and Indiana.

The ruling is a victory for the SEC and ACC conferences, who have rules in place which prohibit camps outside of a 50-mile radius from a university’s campus. The conferences have also been very critical of Harbaugh’s satellite camps  Last summer, ACC commissioner John Swofford told ESPN, “Right now we intend to keep our conference agreement [with the SEC] as is and push for a national rule that prohibits it. We just don’t feel like it’s a healthy part of the recruiting process in college football.”

In fact, the proposal passed today was originally posed by the ACC conference with backing from the SEC.  The ruling thus marks the end of the year-long crusade for the conferences to ban the camps.

Though the ruling is a victory for the ACC and SEC conferences, Jim Harbaugh and his staff reaped great recruiting benefits during last year’s satellite camp tour and even through this year’s scheduling of the camps.  Recent commit J’Marick Woods, of Alabama, noted that it was when Michigan began to plan a satellite camp at Bob Jones high School as the time when his interest in the university increased.

While satellite camps are now banned, do not be surprised if Jim Harbaugh devises something else that will frustrate the SEC and ACC.  After all, the camps were not a problem until he began his tour last year and began stealing many more recruits from SEC country than his predecessor, Brady Hoke. The following chart outlines just the extend Harbaugh has been able to recruit the South, as well as the nation as a whole.

HOKE: Number of Recruits Percent of Recruits HARBAUGH: Number of Recruits Percent of Recruits
Midwest 65 75% Midwest 18 34%
South 14 16% South 18 34%
West 5 6% West 7 13%
Northeast 3 3% Northeast 10 19%
Total 87 100% Total 53 100%

Harbaugh’s ability to recruit the South via satellite camps sparked the SEC and ACC’s outrage and the change in NCAA policy.  And while the proposal was praised by some, it met much criticism as well for the NCAA’s ability to react quickly on some issues, while other issues take years before action is taken.  Jay Bilas expressed his displeasure in the ruling in the following tweet:

Given their nature it is difficult to see any other issues with Satellite Camps other than recruiting.  The camps provided young athletes the chance to work with some of the best coaching staffs in football for little or no cost.  Now these athletes will have to journey up to campuses in order to learn from these staffs, something that is not feasible for many of these athletes.

The ruling outlines the hypocrisy of the NCAA, a non-profit organization meant to benefit student athletes. Now that same organization meant to benefit student-athletes will deprive thousands of high school students of the once in a lifetime opportunity to be instructed by some of the game’s best minds.