The NCAA announced on Friday it's banned the practice of colleges holding camps for recruits far from campus locations, ending the part-developmental clinics, part-recruiting road shows that had become popular and controversial.
The SEC didn't like satellite camps, because they were a mechanism by which coaches at far-away programs could build relationships with players on the SEC's prime recruiting turf. Administrators in the ACC, Big 12, Mountain West, Pac-12 and Sun Belt felt the same way. All have multiple teams in especially talent-rich areas like California, Texas or the Southeast. The Big Ten, which has a bunch of schools that don't sit on fertile recruiting soil, didn't like it.
The people driving this decision were coaches and executives in powerful athletic departments. For them, it makes sense. It protects well-off programs from a form of competition, just like a business in any other field would want.
But players don't seem to like it, and neither will coaches on the short end of the stick.
Rahyme Johnson, a three-star UCLA commit, makes one point:
They think we can go pick money off the tree in the alley. Smh. I feel bad for my young dudes man. https://t.co/wI0hnxxv6p— Rahyme_Johnson16 (@rahyme_johnson) April 8, 2016
South Florida coach Willie Taggart has made this argument before, and it makes a lot of sense. Lots of recruits live in areas that aren't made of money. Satellite camps gave these players the chance to see more programs, if not campuses, without having to spend money to travel long distances. Now, that's gone, and it could disadvantage many kids.
Four-star Mississippi linebacker Willie Gay points out satellite camps saved time, as well:
There's a reason for satellite camps so we wouldn't have to travel so far for a 1 day camp https://t.co/plb1LzVcEU— LOW_LIFE3 (@WillieYRN) April 8, 2016
Blue-chip Texas A&M quarterback commit Tate Martell:
Satellite Camps might have been the only way some athletes could be seen by college coaches and now the NCAA wants to take that away... wow!— Tate Martell (@TheTateMartell) April 8, 2016
I feel bad for the kids who don't have money to travel to the colleges and were using satellite camps to get recognition by college coaches!— Tate Martell (@TheTateMartell) April 8, 2016
Some felt the NCAA was doing a broad injustice, also referring to their earliest encounters with the organization: the rules that eventually halted EA Sports' college games.
So first y'all take our video game away .. Now y'all taking our camps away smh— HUNTER (@hunter_tyb) April 8, 2016
they took ncaa games away from us,make almost billion off our sporting events, and now they take the camps thank you #NCAA— Davir Hamilton (@EspnHam9) April 8, 2016
A few current college players and commits noted they wouldn't have connected with their eventual schools without these camps. Perhaps some would've been overlooked and ended up at lesser schools?
Satellite Camps is how I met the Utah coaches— Davir Hamilton (@EspnHam9) April 8, 2016
Without the satellite camps I might not be headed in the direction that I am right now...#GBR ⚪️— Dicaprio Bootle (@_flightsdelayed) April 8, 2016
That's how I got Boise State and how you can expose yourself to college coaches without paying expenses. Stupid https://t.co/dFDzAVODH8— ❄Deandre Pierce❄ (@its_rayray4) April 8, 2016
Hmm no more satellite camps for high school kids trying to go to next level? I'm going to Penn State because of a satellite camp— Barbir #8⃣ (@Alex_Barbir) April 8, 2016
There are thousands of players and recruits out there, and it's impossible to gauge their collective reaction or include every comment. But there appears to be almost zero public support from the players themselves.
Some coaches are pretty mad, too.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald (who coaches in a state, Illinois, that isn't loaded with elite talent) came out with quick opposition.
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
Washington State coach Mike Leach isn't happy, reports Stefanie Loh:
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.
Bruce Feldman has the view of an anonymous non-power coach:
This happened because the SEC coaches are mad at Jim Harbaugh. That's all. It's a (expletive) joke. Think about all the kids who could've ended up getting MAC scholarships because they got seen by someone who probably would never have saw them before. That's who you're really hurting. What about those kids? It's going to force these kids to spend more money. All you're doing is providing more exposure.
Harbaugh's Michigan didn't invent the practice, but it did make the biggest show of it, irking SEC coaches.
More of Taggart's point:
If you really think about it, [camps are] 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.
Players who have high profiles and the resources to travel won't be affected much, but players who lack one or the other will be at a disadvantage. The only people who win are the ones trying to shelter themselves, and that includes a few particular coaches and teams, but not players.
Dear #NCAA,— Sleeper Athletes (@SleeperAthletes) April 8, 2016
I hate that you guys banned satellite camps! Really hate it! Are you trying to purposely hurt kids or what?
Probably not. But the kids are collateral damage in a turf war between groups of administrators, who might be three times their age and making six-figure-plus salaries.