The Southeastern Conference currently bars its coaches from working at “satellite camps” across the country, but that hasn’t stopped several prominent Big Ten coaches from making appearances in the heart of SEC country.
If the NCAA doesn’t stop the practice, the SEC announced during its annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla., that it will drop its restrictions in 2016.
Much ado has been made about Penn State coach James Franklin’s appearances last year as an instructor at Stetson and Georgia State camps.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff plan a seven-state, nine-camp swing through SEC country, California and Detroit in June.
Official visits, where the school pays to bring a recruit to campus, aren’t allowed before the fall of a player’s senior year in high school. They can opt to pay their own way to attend a team’s camp, but it’s easier for the coaches to come see them.
That’s where the guest-instructor loophole provides a recruiting advantage for coaches like Franklin and Harbaugh, who skirt NCAA rules and have face-to-face contact with recruits during the summer rather than waiting for the fall.
NCAA rules bar teams from hosting camps more than 50 miles from campus, but there is no rule prohibiting a coach and his staff from working as a guest instructor.
The SEC and ACC prohibit their coaches from the practice, but it’s allowed by the Big Ten. The Big 12 and Pac-12 also allow coaches to exploit the loophole, though few — aside from Utah — do.
The SEC plans to make every effort to have its rule banning satellite camps become national policy, but it won’t sit idly by if that effort fails.
“The athletics directors voted to drop our restriction effective in 2016,” said SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who will retire July 31. “If the rule isn’t adopted nationally come next summer, then our folks will be free to fan out all over the country. We thought maybe there was an interpretation that the NCAA could make to take care of this matter. We’ll either get the rule changed or our coaches will start traveling.”
More notes from the SEC meetings:
▪ During the first day of the meetings, the conference passed a new requirement that a medical observer be present in the replay booth for all SEC and home non-conference football games.
That person, who is independent of either team playing in the game, will have the authority to stop the game and allow a player with a possible head injury to be removed from the game.
“This will give us another check in the event that, on the field, a team doesn’t see someone who may have had a head injury and needs to come off the field,” Slive said. “Most of the time, the sideline picks up those kinds of things. But, just in case they don’t, we are doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of our student athletes.”
▪ The SEC also continues to oppose an early signing date for football but reiterated that it would prefer that date be the Monday after Thanksgiving rather than the third week of December if one exists.
Conference members believe the December date effectively would replace the February date as national signing day, but would prefer to keep the status quo, which allows for access to another semester of academic information and additional contact during the late January recruiting window.
▪ The SEC also decided to stiffen penalties for fans rushing the field. Schools are fined $5,000 for a first offense and $25,000 for a second offense under current rules, but those fines might increase to as much as $50,000 for a first offense.
“It’s an attempt to change behavior,” Slive said. “We have changed it, but there are times when it happens and I think our folks felt that the current fine structure is not sufficiently large enough to be a quality deterrent, so they are looking at it.”
▪ College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock and Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, who is the chairman of the playoff selection committee, said Wednesday evening that nine cities have submitted bids for the College Football Playoff Championship Game in 2018-20.
The list includes Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, New Orleans, San Antonio, Santa Clara, Calif., and south Florida.