Satellite camp ban is bad for student-athletes, just ask them

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

It's no surprise that SEC coaches are pleased with the NCAA Division I Council’s decision to ban satellite camps, but many student-athletes don’t see things the same way.

As noted by Washington State’s Mike Leach and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, these camps (where staffs participate as guest instructors at camps hosted by other staffs) give recruits a better chance for exposure – especially when they may not have the means to attend a camp on a university’s campus. Still, the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 – along with the Sun Belt and Mountain West – voted to discontinue the camps.

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The Big Ten was the only major conference to vote in favor of the camps, which largely jumped into the spotlight after Jim Harbaugh arrived on the scene at Michigan. Harbaugh’s “Summer Swarm” tour took his coaching staff to nine camps across seven states last June and raised the ire of coaches across the country, mainly in the south.

There are some other consequences to this ruling. Sure, Michigan (and other schools, of course) won’t be able to take their staffs to the fertile recruiting grounds of the south, but this decision hurts Group of Five programs more than you’d think. Take what one coach told Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman:

"This happened because the SEC coaches are mad at Jim Harbaugh," said one non-Power Five head coach. "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.”

That coach’s sentiment applies directly to the annual Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Detroit. It attracts schools from across the Midwest and helps kids from inner city Detroit, who may not be in a financial position to visit campuses around the country, to showcase themselves to schools of various levels.

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Curtis Blackwell, who has been heavily involved in the SMSB camp for years, explained the consequences to the Detroit Free Press:

“We’ve got to do something for these kids because this was their only way to provide and get these kids exposure and get advice from college coaches. It’s one of those deals where you don’t want to let your child down that you’re not taking them to the park.

“All the way around this is less opportunity for young people. Think about the part where you take Johnny to Michigan camp and he doesn’t get offered by Michigan because Michigan takes the five stars from California who came out. But because he was there he got noticed by Eastern Michigan, or Youngstown State or Central Michigan and they offered him a scholarship and he goes on to be Ben Roethlisberger or somebody. Because little schools don’t have camps.”

Several Michigan players from the Detroit area said their experience at Sound Mind Sound Body helped them and teammates earn scholarships.

Ohio State’s Mike Weber and Donovan Peoples-Jones, a five-star wide receiver in the 2017 class, expressed similar sentiments.

This is just a sample of the many student-athletes across the country to speak to their positive experiences with satellite camps.

Despite what these players say, coaches, who always claim to have the best interest of student-athletes in mind, seem satisfied to look at the situation from a self-serving point of view.

Take Stanford’s David Shaw for example, who said the ruling does not affect his program either way. He apparently doesn’t feel the need to look at the issue from a broader view since some of these prospects may not be able to get into Stanford anyway.

"It's never affected us. People do them, and people don't do them,” Shaw said. “We've got great attendance at the camps we have here – we get a lot of guys we want to come. I'm great with whatever college football says, because it doesn't affect us. It doesn't make sense for us to go hold a camp some place where there might be one person in the entire state that's eligible to get into Stanford."

Alrighty then.

Elsewhere, Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze admitted that he and his staff had plans to go to camps in Texas and Georgia, but he would rather just stay home.

“I’m selfish with my time,” Freeze said. “I’m away from my family enough, and I just did not want to go. I was ready to. We would’ve jumped in with the rest of them and gone to work. But I’m glad we can have a camp and I can sleep at home.”

At least he’s being honest.

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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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