NCAA Division I Board rescinds satellite camp ban

Dr. Saturday
(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The NCAA will not ban satellite camps, after all.

Three weeks after the NCAA Division I Council voted to put an end to the practice, the Division I Board of Directors rescinded the ruling Thursday.

These camps – and the decision to ban them – have been a source of controversy. The NCAA previously prohibited programs from hosting camps more than 50 miles from their own campus, but several Big Ten coaching staffs, especially Jim Harbaugh and Michigan, took advantage of a loophole that allowed them to participate in camps (which were hosted by other schools) as guest coaches.

Many of these camps took place in the fertile recruiting grounds of the South. Predictably, coaches from the SEC and ACC – both of which banned its coaches from taking advantage of the loophole – were not happy. Both leagues presented proposals to alter the rule, and the ACC's version passed. 

The initial ruling closed this loophole, but it came with some unintended consequences, including limiting possible scholarship opportunities for some prospective student-athletes. Not only did the ruling ban coaches from participating in camps across the country, it also prevented coaches from smaller schools from coaching at camps held by Power Five schools.

The outcry prompted the NCAA to take a closer look at the issue.

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From the NCAA’s release:

The camps and clinics rule received widespread attention after its adoption, with supporters contending the rule would keep coaches on campus with current student-athletes and steer recruiting toward the scholastic environment. Detractors believe the camps provide opportunities for previously un-recruited student-athletes to be noticed by high-profile coaches and possibly receive scholarships.

The Board’s action means the camps and clinics rule currently legislated is in effect and football coaches may be employed at any camp that follows Division I camps and clinics rules.

In accordance with Thursday's decision, the Board of Directors hopes the Council will look at the "FBS recruiting environment," not only camps, from a broader view.

“The Board of Directors is interested in a holistic review of the football recruiting environment, and camps are a piece of that puzzle,” said Board of Directors chair Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina. “We share the Council’s interest in improving the camp environment, and we support the Council’s efforts to create a model that emphasizes the scholastic environment as an appropriate place for recruiting future student-athletes.”

Added Northwestern athletic director and Council chair Jim Phillips: “It’s clear that the membership has differing views on this subject, and the Council appreciates the Board’s insights into this important issue. This review will provide an opportunity to identify the most effective ways prospective student-athletes can have their academic and athletic credentials evaluated by schools across the country."

From the NCAA:

Historically, coaches used camps and clinics primarily to provide skill instruction to young people and generate revenue. Actual recruiting activities are prohibited at camps and clinics, and the events have not been subject to recruiting calendars. Over time, camps and clinics have increasingly been viewed as a recruiting tool.

Another factor that changed the way coaches use camps and clinics was a 2008 rule change prohibiting FBS coaches from evaluating prospective student-athletes during “live” nonscholastic football activities. Many think the rule was intended to reduce third-party influence in recruiting, but others believe it increased the pressure on coaches to use camps as a place to find future talent. Some coaches broaden their recruiting reach by working at camps held by other schools, including Football Championship Subdivision schools.

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The satellite camp ban was initially adopted following a vote from representatives from each FBS conference. The Big Ten was the only Power Five conference to vote against the ban, joining the AAC, MAC and Conference USA. On the other side, the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big 12, Sun Belt and Mountain West all voted for the ban. 

In the weeks that followed that ruling, several people came out in opposition to the vote of their conference. Notably, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero "did not vote the way he was supposed to."

"We had 11 schools in our conference that wanted this looked at as we studied more comprehensively football recruiting issues – there's a variety of them – but in the meantime we'd prefer the status quo, which for us allows coaches to attend other camps in other markets," Scott said.

Guerrero said it was clear the ban would pass, so he voted for the proposal (the ACC's, not the SEC's) that was more favorable to the Pac-12's stance. 

Similarly, Texas State head coach Everett Whithers made it clear he is in favor of the camps, despite TSU athletic director Larry Teis voting for the ban on behalf of the Sun Belt Conference.

Moving forward, the Board of Directors says it hopes for "initial recommendations for improving the football recruiting environment" by Sept. 1, the deadline for legislative concepts which could be applied to the 2016-17 season.

And meanwhile, with the national ban off the table, expect a bunch of previously-scheduled camp arrangements to be announced. The SEC will be in that mix. In a statement expressing disappointment in the ruling, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said league coaches will be allowed to "engage" in camps this summer.

“While we are disappointed with the NCAA governance process result, we respect the Board of Directors’ decision and are confident SEC football programs will continue to be highly effective in their recruiting efforts,” Sankey said. 

“We continue to believe football recruiting is primarily an activity best-focused in high schools during the established recruiting calendar, which has provided opportunities for football prospective student-athletes from all across the country to obtain broad national access and exposure but with appropriate guidance from high school coaches, teachers and advisors that focuses on both their academic and athletic opportunities as they decide where they will play college football.

“SEC coaches will be allowed to engage in summer camps as a result of Conference legislation approved during the 2015 SEC Spring Meetings.”

The ACC will also reportedly lift its ban. 

Let the games begin.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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