The NCAA announced it's banning off-campus satellite camps, the traveling clinics and recruiting shows put on by college teams throughout the country. The move has appeared to be enormously unpopular with high school and college football players.
ESPN reported six of the 10 FBS conferences voted in favor eliminating them, while the Big Ten (joined by the MAC, American and Conference USA) was the only Power 5 league to object.
A handful of coaches have since weighed in. The reaction's been mixed, although public opposition to the ban has been far louder than support.
SB Nation spoke with head coaches from half of the country's 10 FBS conferences, and we've also gathered comments from elsewhere. This is by no means exhaustive, and FCS and high school coaches have raised concerns as well.
First, a few common reactions from coaches who favor camps, to summarize: "Some kids just don't have the resources to spend a bunch of money on traveling to different camps" ... "What most of these coaches are saying is they don't want to work harder" ... "I still see [camps] as an opportunity for both coaches and players" ... "The NCAA made the decision based on a few Power 5 conferences" ... "It hurts high school football players, and it also hurts smaller colleges."
American (voted against the ban)
Willie Fritz, Tulane
On the one hand, Fritz is leading a small school that could use the chance to get off campus. The Green Wave had been doing that around the South.
But Tulane is also in a big city, New Orleans, and in the Southern recruiting hotbed.
"Some kids just don't have the resources to spend a bunch of money on traveling to different camps, so we kind of brought our school to them," Fritz explained to SB Nation. "But I also think, ‘Where does it stop?' Unfortunately, there's some coaches that, you give ‘em an inch, they're gonna take a mile, and programs, they'll do whatever it takes to think they can turn over every single stone and find a hidden gem. I really do see it. I'm not trying to waffle. I see it from both perspectives, and I think there's good and bad with both."
Fritz thinks the ban will help the American, which has several other members in big cities like Cincinnati, Houston and Memphis.
"We've got a lot of big towns," Fritz said "Kids will be able to come. You're gonna be able to draw a lot of kids, and they don't have to drive a very far distance. I think it'll be good for us."
Willie Taggart, USF
I think the wrong message has been put out. No one's really talking about how good it is for the kids. If you really think about it, this is the right thing to do. Kids are going to camps all over the country, spending all this money to try and get the most amount of exposure, when it's the schools that have all the money. The schools should be moving around so the players can get a larger variety of teams.
ACC (voted for the ban)
The ACC is unique in lacking voices of total dissent. Clemson's Dabo Swinney, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Pitt's Pat Narduzzi and others have spoken against the camps, at various points.
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
The Irish are an ACC partner in football, so we'll put them here. Kelly has said the ban won't change his recruiting much, though ND has worked satellite camps in the South. Kelly's boss has been a major critic of an NCAA camps ban, however.
Dave Doeren, NC State
The former Heartlander applauded the creativity of the Big Ten's camps use.
You want to have as many opportunities as possible to not just recruit but have your brand out there. What Michigan did was smart. They took advantage of an opportunity. They had the budget to do it. Being a northern school, which I've been before, being able to get down into the South where there's a lot of talent, for them, was intelligent.
Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Clawson was somewhat in favor before the NCAA took the camps away.
Wake Forest HC Dave Clawson said he's for satellite camps: "I don’t think we should do anything that makes us less competitive nationally."— Matt Murschel (@osmattmurschel) May 11, 2015
Big 12 (voted for the ban)
Matt Campbell, Iowa State
Newly from Toledo, Campbell is one of the Power 5's most outspoken critics of the NCAA's decision.
The reality of it is that you're hurting kids. I'm coming from a non-Power 5 school, where we made a living on those camps. We went with Ohio State, (and) we went with Michigan. We did our own camps, traveling the circuit throughout Ohio. It was to give back to the community, to give back and take ourselves out there to these kids.
Division I schools ... are willing to pay their own money, to provide a camp, to provide an opportunity for these young men to be evaluated. I think (the ruling) is an unfortunate situation right now.
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
It has given us an opportunity for 12 years to go out and coach, and allow the young people in other parts of the state who may not be as financially able to come to Stillwater and be at our camps, we can bring our show to them.
They can see us as coaches and see us as people and maybe draw an interest in Oklahoma State University based on, those guys are good coaches, I like them, they're personable, they're exciting, they're enthusiastic. Maybe I want to go check out Oklahoma State ...
Bill Snyder, Kansas State
The K-State legend has "mixed emotions," but pointed out that even within a smaller state, travel can be an issue for players.
Our satellite camps, for the most part, were in the state of Kansas, trying to get out to western Kansas, because western Kansas youngsters sometimes just can't get here. We did them in Kansas City, we did them in Wichita. We were in-state. I would prefer the rule still allowed you to do that.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Yeah, definitely that's something that [is an issue]. There's always cause and effect to everybody, and I'm sure it'll be unfortunate some kids aren't able to get up here to work with us that could have elsewhere. But there's a lot to consider around the country, so whatever our leaders feel is the right thing to do, I'm on board.
Big Ten (voted against the ban)
Urban Meyer, Ohio State
The biggest thing that I did not realize that was part of it is that now that the MAC schools can't come here [to Ohio State camps]. Probably hundreds of scholarships have come out of here to those young players. I know my son (Nate) is getting recruited now a little bit and what camps do you send him to? Not many kids can play at Ohio State, so don't send them, or send them. I did not realize that was part of the conversation about ... I wish they would revisit that part of it.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Harbaugh's been at the vortex of this controversy because of how aggressively Michigan has used satellite camps. He torched the ban in an interview with SI:
"It seems to be outrage by the SEC and ACC. They power-brokered that out ... the image that comes to my mind is guys in a back room smoking cigars, doing what they perceive is best for them. It certainly isn't the best thing for the youngsters. It's not the best thing for the student-athletes."
Harbaugh saw Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze say, "I'm away from my family enough, and I just did not want to go," and it did not sit well with him.
Says Harbaugh: "You've got a guy sitting in a big house, making $5 million a year, saying he does not want to sacrifice his time. That is not a kindred spirit to me. What most of these coaches are saying is they don't want to work harder."
DJ Durkin, Maryland
Durkin is a Harbaugh disciple of sorts, having worked for him at Stanford and then Michigan. But his support is qualified with an understanding of what the NCAA is doing. Via Daniel Gallen of The Baltimore Sun:
It was one of those things you could see they were probably going to rule that way. I think the satellite camps were a good thing. It was beneficial. You got to see a lot of guys. You get to take your camps somewhere else and put the expense on the school. I also understand the standpoint of the NCAA. It becomes more things they've got to regulate and everything else, so you could see these things going both ways.
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Pretty epic subtweet of Harbaugh by his in-state rival, right here:
Maybe [we should make it so] the smaller colleges can still come but the MAC cannot come. That was advantageous for the MAC in general and those schools to be able to come and see players. That's one of the things that's taken the hit on this. I guess abuse brings control.
Mike Riley, Nebraska
I still frankly don't get it. I still see [camps] as an opportunity for both coaches and players. Us going to Atlanta and having a camp, and some guy down there we find or he finds us, he changes his life and he changes Nebraska, I think those are all good stories. There's just more opportunity.
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Fitzgerald wonders why this had to be a complete ban of everything, rather than a gradual adjustment:
"Our camp last year, that falls into the satellite camps. It's on our campus. We started that to try to help the Chicagoland kids, especially those without financial means, to where they didn't have to try to go to Bowling Green, Kent, Akron. But if we brought all those schools here, the kids could go to one spot."
Fitzgerald indicated that the camp would continue, but the lack of FBS scholarships available coming out of the camp will reduce opportunities for high school football players.
"I don't think anybody in the SEC and ACC would be upset about Northern Illinois coming to our campus," Fitzgerald said. "We had coaches from Wyoming, Nevada, Air Force, Buffalo ...That Group of Five full-ride scholarship opportunity is not gonna be a part of the showcase anymore, and I just think that it's wrong."
Fitzgerald also noted how many eventual scholarship players, at one school or another, have come through NU camps.
Disappointed to read satellite camp news-better solutions than a ban- will hurt PSA's & Group of 5 schools. pic.twitter.com/fhmEDnn2ve— Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) April 8, 2016
Chris Ash, Rutgers
The former Ohio State assistant agrees with Fitzgerald:
The one thing I wish they would have done, if they were gonna ban it, that it would have just been a Power 5 ban, and let the mid-majors be allowed to go still.
Conference USA (voted against the ban)
Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
I am extremely disappointed in the decision by the NCAA. It is clear to me the NCAA made the decision based on a few Power 5 conferences that are clearly opposed to these camps. I feel strongly these camps are a benefit to all the high school kids that cannot afford to travel individually to the schools they hope to attend due to the cost restraints on individual families.
MAC (voted against the ban)
P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Fleck is an ace recruiter, but he told SB Nation satellite camps weren't a huge part of Western Michigan's strategy. They used them, but mostly as a verification point for prospects they were already interested in. Rare is the player, Fleck said, whom the Broncos would offer without a campus visit.
"I think with everybody in the country, right, it depends why the decision was made. Was it made for the players, or was it made for the coaches? I think that's what people have to ask themselves."
Fleck thinks the ban puts a weightier onus on high school coaches and family members to steer players toward the right camps. If a player goes to a Power 5 camp but isn't good enough to get an offer there, no MAC or other mid-major coaches will be there to see them and make a connection.
"I think now, the ball is gonna be dropped in terms of the head coaches of high schools' court, in terms of when parents come there. ‘Where can my son play? Where can I play?' Well, ‘You're not a Division I player, or you are a Big Ten player, you need to go to four or five MAC schools, because everybody wants to go to the big schools -- the ACCs, the Big Tens, and they wanna go to those camps. That's great. But if you're not a Big Ten player or an ACC player, you're wasting your time."
John Bonamego, Central Michigan
Via Coaching Search:
Michigan's not going to be able to recruit every kid that's at their camp. Some of those kids end up in the MAC or other conferences. Ultimately, we're hurting the players and their ability to have exposure to multiple schools by going to one camp.
Mountain West (voted for the ban)
Bryan Harsin, Boise State
The Broncos have benefited from satellite camps. Idaho isn't overflowing with top prospects, but the Broncos weren't too far away to reach via camps, even though the ultimate goal was to get them onto campus.
"We're going to have to do what we've always done: push to get guys on campus," Harsin told SB Nation. "Satellite camps allowed us to get out to see more kids, but even then, we tried to get every player we were recruiting on campus to see The Blue and be around our program.
"Our coaches are going to have to do a good job of evaluating during the spring, knowing we won't have camps. But this is the way we've always operated, trying to get as many kids to Boise as we can so they can see what we are about and what this place has to offer."
Nick Rolovich, Hawaii
I'm trying to figure out how it benefits the kid. I'm looking for what the reasoning was. It's really given a lot of exposure to kids who don't have to spent their own money to get to all these college campuses, and get in front of more than a handful of coaches by going to a satellite camp.
Pac-12 (voted for the ban)
Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Whittingham outrightly opposes the ban.
"I think the bottom line is it's not good for the student-athletes, and that is what should be most important to all of us," he said to SB Nation. "By not allowing satellite camps, that's gonna be less opportunity to evaluate these guys, so they suffer. I'm not in favor of it."
Whittingham thinks the ban will hit hardest for lower-echelon recruits.
"I just don't think that it's gonna be as much of an impact on ourselves or other Power 5 schools as it will be on the mid-level recruits. The high-profile recruits, everybody knows about," he said. "They're gonna get their offers and exposure regardless, but it's those guys who are a little bit under the radar, those players that are not four- and five-star athletes and three-star athletes, that are really gonna be the ones that suffer."
Mark Helfrich, Oregon
There isn't a lot of blue-chip talent in the Ducks' state, so they benefited from traveling around. Helfrich will miss the camps, The Oregonian reports:
It's just a different situation, obviously. We're in a place where we'd like to be able to go out and visit guys or have an opportunity to pay for it. It's a rule. We'll play the rules as they come. But that was surprising to have it come out Friday and then to have it happen that quickly.
Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
The former San Jose State and Temple coach points out smaller schools could lose revenue opportunities:
I'm definitely opposed to the ban. We should have satellite camps, there's no doubt in my mind. It hurts high school football players and it also hurts smaller colleges that we do [the camps] with, that are able to make money to supplement their budgets, which is extremely important. It hurts football and it hurts young people. I do not understand it whatsoever.
Mike Leach, Washington State
Leach's Wazzu is in a similar boat as Oregon, yet without the same national brand. Couple that with an abrasive style in general, and Leach's view isn't surprising. Via the Seattle Times:
It appears that the selfish interests of a few schools and conferences prevailed over the best interests of future potential student-athletes. The mission of universities and athletic programs should be to provide future student-athletes with exposure to opportunities, not to limit them. It appears to me that some universities and conferences are willing to sacrifice the interests of potential student-athletes for no better reasons than to selfishly monopolize their recruiting bases.
I will be fascinated to hear any legitimate reasoning behind this ruling. We need to rethink this if we are actually what we say we are.
More Leach, with Rich Eisen:
We're trying to uncover this, I'm sure most of the Pac-12 is trying to uncover this. The Pac-12 poll: 11 in favor of satellite camps, one abstention. Now how that unfolds into a [conference] vote against satellite camps, I can't imagine. It's unfathomable.
Are they really that sensitive? Would they really be that paranoid and petty and say, 'Okay, we're mad at Jim Harbaugh and we don't like him or his tone of voice and now we're gonna screw over the student-athletes a ton of other schools would have the opportunity to see and recruit, because Jim Harbaugh was mean to us and we didn't like what he said and he hurt our feelings? And somebody down there went and chalked Jim Harbaugh's name on the side walk and our feelings are hurt and we live in fear, so please change the rule.'
SEC (voted for the ban)
Though the SEC's the happiest about the ban, that's only in part due to the geographic advantage it wanted to protect.
Coaches also found it unfair that an SEC rule prevented them from camping, despite other conferences being able to invade their turf. After the SEC decided to change that rule, this was one reaction ...
Les Miles on LSU doing satellite camps: "I promise you, all summer next year we'll be in all different locations."— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) May 27, 2015
... but after the subsequent NCAA-wide ban, Miles said he agreed with the NCAA.
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Freeze opposed the "circus" nature of satellite camps, but now has second thoughts. Via Andy Staples:
Freeze realized quickly that the ban had a serious consequence he hadn't considered. In keeping Michigan coaches from working camps at high schools in Alabama, Florida and Georgia and Oklahoma State coaches from working camps at a Division III school in Texas, the schools also had banned Bowling Green coaches from working Ohio State's camp and Arkansas State coaches from working the Ole Miss camp.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Bielema was preparing to hold a series of camps just this summer, including in Michigan and Chicago.
"We were gonna jump in," he told ESPN's Paul Finebaum Show. "We were gonna jump in with both feet."
However, he doesn't feel the loss of camps means fewer opportunities for recruits.
Sun Belt (voted for the ban)
Everett Withers, Texas State
Withers, a former Ohio State defensive coordinator, echoed Meyer's concerns in an interview with SB Nation.
"When I was at Ohio State, man, we had every school in the MAC at our camp and on campus," Withers said. "It was a great opportunity for them to work and to see all the kids in the state of Ohio. I can't go 25 miles up the road and work the University of Texas's camp. To me, that's a shame, because there are gonna be some kids that Texas is not gonna recruit that are gonna be at their camp, and I think it's a shame that I can't go up there and see them."
There's also a players angle.
"I think any time you take an opportunity for a young person to get around a school, an institution's coaching staff that's recruiting, I think it does hurt them. Whether or not it's time, schedules that don't work out, financial situations, whatever it may be, we were bringing camps to kids.
"To me, nowadays, you go back to the old wild, wild west. Now you've gotta get the high school coach to bring him down to camp, and what does that entail? A few years back, before the satellites became involved, there were guest coaches working at camps bringing kids 2,000 miles across the country, becoming guest coaches at camp making a bunch of money. And you wonder, 'How does that look as opposed to having a satellite camp?'"
Blake Anderson, Arkansas State
One of the Sun Belt's powers relies extensively on these camps:
I disagree with it completely. I think it is in the best interest of a few schools. It's not in the best interest of players. Two years in a row, we signed 90 percent of our recruiting by being able to to make camps available (to athletes). We made no money off of it. We get to see kids that normally don't come to Jonesboro. I think there's a handful of schools that scream loud enough and get what they want. But it's not good for the kids at all.
Matt Viator, ULM
The new Warhawks coach, who came up from FCS:
There's a lot of kids on this team from the Dallas metroplex and East Texas, and those evaluations were done by the ULM coaches.
I figured it was just a matter of time before there was some pull back with the way things were going, but I was surprised because I hadn't heard any talk about it. I was looking forward to doing them. With the size of our program, it allowed us to be able to see kids that maybe couldn't come up here. Without having satellites, it's more of an advantage for the bigger schools in my opinion.