The satellite camp free-for-all is back on in college football after the NCAA Division I Board of Directors on Thursday rescinded a rule that was passed by the Division I Council earlier this month.
The decision opens the door for first-year Missouri coach Barry Odom and his staff to fan out across the country on the recruiting trail this summer for the first time since joining the Southeastern Conference, which along with the Atlantic Coast Conference had previously limited programs — and coaches’ appearances — to on-campus clinics.
Because the satellite camps weren’t outlawed, an SEC resolution passed last spring will allow coaches to participate in all camps this summer: on-campus, in-state and out-of-state.
“While we are disappointed with the NCAA governance process result,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release, “we respect the Board of Directors’ decision and are confident SEC football programs will continue to be highly effective in their recruiting efforts.
“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.”
The NCAA council had voted April 8 to close a loophole that allowed Football Bowl Subdivision coaches to appear as guest instructors at football camps and clinics nationwide, the so-called “satellite” camps. The vote also limited school-operated camps to on-campus only.
Prior to that, FBS programs outside the SEC and ACC were permitted to conduct camps on campus as well as within home-state borders or, for schools near a state border, within a 50-mile radius of campus, per NCAA regulations. Coaching staffs at those programs also were allowed to appear as guest instructors at any camp or clinic as long as it adhered to NCAA guidelines.
The SEC, in particular, cried foul, most notably when Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh went on his “Swarm Tour” last summer, appearing at camps and clinics throughout the Southeast.
Earlier this month in Indianapolis, the ACC proposed to bring NCAA rules in line with theirs and the SEC’s more stringent rules. After the rule’s adoption, however, representatives of the Pac-12 and Sun Belt Conferences said the majority of its coaches didn’t support the ban and the conferences had voted against their preference. If both conferences had switched their vote, the revised rule would have failed, so the board reversed course.
The NCAA also announced Thursday that it will undertake a more sweeping assessment of FBS recruiting, including but not limited to the contentious issue of satellite camps. Coaches aren’t allowed to directly recruit during these appearances but can establish a rapport with prospects and get a hands-on evaluation.
Proponents of the ban believe satellite camps open the door for questionable recruiting tactics and place an undue travel burden on coaching staffs and players.
But the camps’ proponents claim they provide exposure for many players, not just with Power Five coaches but with coaches from smaller programs that have more limited resources. The camps also helped players who couldn’t afford to travel to on-campus clinics to connect with programs from other regions.
“I have mixed emotions about it,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder told The Star earlier this month. “You like to get out and have the opportunity to be with young guys, but, by the same token, it can get out of hand.”
The Wildcats typically conduct camps in western Kansas, Wichita and Kansas City along with occasional out-of-state appearances.
Odom, who was closely monitoring the situation this morning as he embarked on a media tour of Kansas City, was prepared to have his staff jump into the satellite camp fray before the ban was announced three weeks ago.
Now, the Tigers are ramping up those plans again and are expected to add camps in Kansas City and St. Louis in addition to participating in multiple camps across Texas and Georgia.
Missouri will participate in roughly a dozen satellite camps scattered throughout the Southeast — including a mega camp in Atlanta with Mississippi that features at least 15 schools, according to USA Today.
“We would have tried to get in as many states that we recruit that we could have,” Odom told The Star after the initial ban was announced earlier this month. “There were so many schools reaching out to want to pair up together. We had some things that we felt like we were going to do pretty strongly and then, within the last 48 hours, it got a little crazy with people wanting to pair up all over the place.”
Odom’s preference remains to get recruits on Mizzou’s campus, which provides the greatest recruiting advantage, he said.